Tag Archives: gotu kola

Gotu Kola Kenda

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It’s good to be back guys. Thanks for your patience. The last few months have seen us move from Seattle to Sydney, buy a house, unpack a 20ft container and welcome a new member to our family. Life is still hectic but the cooking must go on.

I’ve decided to make a recipe my mother has been making for years. Its a real comfort dish for me, something that’s so packed with goodness that I always feel great when I’ve had this for breakfast.

Kenda is somewhere between the ubiquitous Asian congee and a green smoothie. Packed with rice  and simple flavourings, it gets it green colour from the kola, which is Sinhalese for leaves. In Sri Lanka, it’s a real forager’s dish, made with whatever herbs and leaves can be gathered.

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Gotu Kola(centella asiatica) is a herb commonly found in Sri Lanka. It grows wild in many places and we use it in kenda, salads and deep fried till crisp in condiments.  It has many medicinal properties, often used in Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese herbal medicine alike. I’ve often heard it referred to as ‘arthritis herb’, which makes sense as it is known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties.

In the US, I came across gotu kola in the most unexpected place. I was walking with Mr Firehouse and Mister C through the university district farmer’s markets in Seattle and passed a tea stall. I never pass a tea stall without stopping,  I love tea! As I was perusing the teas I came across one that had gotu kola in it. I was excited! Gotu kola in Seattle? Could this be the start of fresh mallums and kenda on Saturday mornings? Sadly no. When I asked the proprietor she informed me that gotu kola is grown in Oregon, which is where she had sourced it. Alas, I never saw it in Seattle but there’s proof it is in the states. Jess from 13spices also did a post on her blog about gotu kola which she found in DC. In Australia it’s often seen in Sri Lankan spice markets or better yet in an Aunty of Uncle’s garden. In fact that’s where I source all of mine.

I’ve had a few requests for this recipe, so I hope you all enjoy it!

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  • 3-4 cups gotu kola, leaves only picked
  • 1/2 cup of rice ( I used a combination of red and white) rinsed
  • 3 cloves of garlic sliced
  • 1 tbsp. pepper corns
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • palm sugar to serve


In a medium saucepan add the rice, garlic and peppercorns and 2 cups of water. Pop the lid on and cook until the rice is cooked, but not too soft, we’re going for al dente.

Meanwhile, blend the gotu kola with just enough water to make a lovely green puree. I ended up with just under a litre of liquid.

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Pass the gotu kola puree through a sieve into the cooked rice and spices and mix.

Add the coconut milk and season to taste. When the mixture is warmed through, take off the heat and serve hot with plenty of palm sugar or jaggery.

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Filed under "Something" Free Cooking, Sri Lankan Food

Kale Baddum

There was an episode of Modern Family a few years back where they declared that “kale is the new spinach”. I’m going to declare that in my book kale has become the new “gotu kola” Gotu Kola, sometimes called pennywort is a South Asian herb/ green that is not only tasty but has a multitude of health benefits. Unfortunately it also likes to grow in a warm, swampy climate so my chances of finding it in Seattle are fairly non-existant.

We ran into a lady at a farmer’s market who used it as an ingredient in her organic tea but outside of saying she sources her gotu kola from ‘somewhere in Oregon”, she couldn’t really help us find the stuff. So, we’ve taken to finding substitutes. This “badduma” or “fried dish” as it literally translates to, is often served in Sri Lanka with deep fried gotu kola. In the abscence of such luxuries and perhaps for something a little different, we’ve made it here today with some kale, or more correctly kale chips. It’s a delicious combination and  a fabulous condiment that adds a great textural element to any meal.




  • I bunch kale
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 4 small red onions peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • Oil for deep frying
  • 1 cup deep friend sprats *
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chilli flakes


Preheat oven to 350F/180C Prepare the kale by removing the stems and cutting in 2-3 inch pieces. Wash and dry well. Toss the kale in some olive oil, place in a single layer on an oven tray and bake for 20-25 mins or until crispy.

While the kale is cooking, fry the onions, garlic and cashews until golden and crispy. Drain well and set aside.


In a large bowl mix together the onions, garlic, cashews, sprats (if using), lime juice, salt, chilli powder and chilli flakes.  Make sure the onions etc are well coated in the spices. Finally at the kale and mix just enough to evenly distribute the spices.

This is a fabulous condiment best served with steamed white rice and something simple like dhal.


HP1B7351* Sprats are a small dried fish available from most Asian grocers. They are salty and distinctively flavoured, much like anchovies. If you want to use them, I suggest washing them first, drying them well and deep frying them much in the same way as you would the onions and cashews.

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