Have a Kola Kenda and a Smile!
That was the – not very original – slogan I coined 30 years ago as a school boy to promote and popularise kola kenda, the Lankan version of herbal porridge.
I’ve always been an ardent eater of green leaves and veggies (isn’t everybody?). So I didn’t need any special persuasion to drink kola kenda.
Most of my peers didn’t share this enthusiasm. They didn’t mind the taste, but the whole thing seemed too old fashioned. Self-respecting teenagers shouldn’t be seen drinking a favourite of their grandparents, they argued.
As often happened, I disagreed. Not only did I take delight in partaking my kola kenda, but also kept trying to convince my peers that, hey, kola kenda was cool.
First I tried the rational, evidence-based approach. I found out as much as I could about kola kenda and distilled it into a few non-technical, non-preachy lines. I wrote about in our school magazine, spoke about it at the school assembly, and seized every other opportunity to plug the green stuff.
I must have been around 15 or 16 years old at the time, but even then, I realised kola kenda had an image problem. So — following the golden advice, “Don’t just sit there; do something!” — I tried to improve it.
I abbreviated kola kenda to KK. I designed a stylish logo for it, independent of any corporate branding. Adapting a popular tag-line for Coca Cola at the time, I even came up with the slogan, “Have a KK – and a smile!”
None of this really worked; after six months, I gave up being the kola kenda evangelist. But that campaign earned me an inevitable nickname: kola-kendaya.
I was proud of it then as I’m now.
Years later, when I started running my own household, I realized making kola kenda is a tedious process. So, despite being a life-long kola-kendaya, I don’t make it too often.
That’s why I’m very grateful to Ceylon Biscuits Limited — a leading food products company — for introducing Herbal Porridge powder, which comes in easy-to-prepare packs. Simply mix the powdered content with water, boil or microwave, and in three minutes we get a fairly authentic kola kenda.
I’m all for modernising traditional recipes: retaining the nutrition and taste, while reducing the drudgery. That’s just what CBL have done. It comes in five flavours too: gotukola, welpenela, haathawariya, karapincha and mixed herbs.
At LKR 50 (less than US$ 50 cents) per pack of 3 servings, it’s good value for money.
I’m now working on my resident teenager to try it sometime. She’s not yet convinced. I’m hoping that this 21st Century Girl would prove smarter than those ignorant boys who turned their backs to KK 30 years ago…