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Kola Kanda, Ayurvedic drink from Sri Lanka

As I write this post, thunder echoes in the distance, mingling with the chants of the evening pūja at the nearby Buddhist temple. The rain keeps falling this afternoon, a beautiful tropical storm has darkened the sky and the beautiful Garden of Eden of Tishan Holiday Resort in Polonnaruwa, Came to take a dip in the pool, its enchanting setting literally seduced me. And while I had to continue my journey the next day, I am still here, letting myself live and be pampered by Thaluna and her family for more than a week, not planning anything, remaining totally free so as not to miss any opportunity and fully savouring everything that is offered to me on the way. It's hard to leave, everything is perfect, between rice fields and jungle, the calm, the room, the swimming pool and the food prepared by Kumari, a real cordon bleu taking care of his family, his garden, his flowers and his vegetable garden newly planted to face the crisis. Indeed, rising food prices and falling incomes have pushed many Sri Lankan families to grow fruit and vegetables. Isn't it said that every cloud has a silver lining? Well, it was another misfortune, her husband's very serious stomach operation, that prompted Kumari to take an interest in medicinal plants to help him during his convalescence. For seven years, she has been preparing Kola Kanda for him every morning and herbal soup every evening. I had already tasted this sweet and creamy Ayurvedic beverage at Anushka's Agro village, another dream property where I stayed near Kalpitiya. What a joy to have the opportunity to drink it again and to learn a little more about its making and history.

The story of Kola Kanda

According to ancient texts, it has been consumed for centuries and comes from Buddhist culture. Under the monastic code, monks are only allowed to eat two meals a day (breakfast and lunch). Thus, after spending more than 12 hours without eating, Kola kanda is consumed before breakfast. It is a restorative and regenerating contribution that provides monks with the energy they need to begin their daily activities. Today, Kola Kanda is still a staple food in Sri Lanka, whether before going to school, a long day of work or as a dose of energy for sports practice.


What is Kola Kanda? ?

Kola Kanda is a traditional Sri Lankan porridge or herbal oatmeal. It is made from raw rice, coconut and fresh leafy vegetable juices with medicinal properties. Healthy and nutritious, this green juice is usually served hot for breakfast, with a piece of jaggery (palm sugar) if necessary to counter the bitterness of certain plants used in its manufacture. That of Anushka and Kumari based on gotukola, welpenela, and karapincha (curry leaves) was not at all, quite the contrary. She explains to me that in general, she mixes several herbs that she chooses according to the desired therapeutic objective, if there is one that is not necessarily the case.

Nutritional benefits

There are many nutritional and curative properties of Kola Kanda, depending on the specific leafy vegetables used. The main goal is to cool, cleanse and detoxify the body, while giving you a good dose of energy to start your day. Other general benefits include preventing constipation, improving the immune system, reducing cholesterol levels, reducing high blood pressure, preventing cancer and heart disease, and combatting fatigue.

Kumari recipe for 4 people

  • About 500g of green leaves: Carefully washed (you can use Gotukola, Mukunuwenna, Ranawara, Welpenela, Polpala, Iramusu, Hathawariya, Elabatu, Aligetapera, Erabadu or a mixture of these). Kumari adds curry leaves

  • 1 1/2 cup of rice cooked with garlic cloves (white or raw red kakulu rice)

  • About 1 L of water

  • 7-8 tablespoons (bombs) of grated coconut

  • 1 teaspoon of salt (optional)

Cook the rice with garlic cloves (and/or ginger) in the rice cooker, then blend it with 1 cup of water for 10 seconds and put it in a covered saucepan for 5 minutes, or rice cooker. Mix the green leaves and the grated coconut. Mix them or blend them with 1 to 2 cups of water, filter. Heat the rice over medium heat, stirring continuously. Add the rest of the water. Add the plant extract last with salt and remove from the fire to the first bubbles to avoid destroying the nutrients of the herbs. Let cool for a few minutes.

If you do not have grated coconut, you can use coconut milk that you will add at the end of cooking. Serve with a piece of jaggery, unrefined coconut sugar if the drink is bitter.

You will find recipes on video on YouTube if you are interested.

You'll tell me, great 👍🏻, thank you for the recipe, but where do we find the magic leaves? Well, innovate friends, be creative and look around you, in your garden. Get ready to pick up, youtube is a gold mine to learn or treat yourself to a day to discover and taste local plants..... Adapt the recipe for example with nettles, spinach, sorrel, lettuce, celery, triquette garlic or bear garlic, plantain, mint.....

all my gratitude to Kumari 🙏🏻

My good addresses in Sri Lanka:

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