Kola Kenda

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

By Bree Hutchins

Published 2013

  • About

Kola kenda is a porridge-like drink made from red rice, coconut milk and the juice of leafy greens. The first time I tried it was at a dansal in Boralesgamuwa. They served it warm in glasses with a small piece of jaggery, which you nibble on between sips. There was a number of different flavours of kola kenda being served, each made from a different blend of leafy greens, but the most popular (and traditional) was made from gotu kola.


  • 165 g ( oz/¾ cup) red rice*
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) juice from gotu kola* (you will need about 750 g (1 lb 10 oz) of gotu kola or use a mixture of English spinach, watercress and parsley)
  • 375 ml (13 fl oz/ cups) coconut milk*
  • pinch of salt
  • jaggery pieces*, to serve


Wash the rice well, then place in a saucepan with 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the rice is well cooked and mushy.

While the rice is cooking, prepare the gotu kola juice. Wash the gotu kola, trim off and discard the bottom 5 cm (2 inches) of stem, then push the rest through the juicer. You will need 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) juice (see note).

Stir the coconut milk into the rice, and add about 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) extra water if needed (the kola kenda needs to be thick but runny). Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, or until the rice reaches a thin porridge-like consistency. Stir in the juice and a pinch of salt, bring to just below the boil, then remove from the heat. Serve hot with a piece of jaggery.