Inguru Kottha Malli (Ginger and Coriander Tea)


It is 5°C in Auckland right now and a couple hours ago it felt much colder. I am wearing two sets of night clothes, big thick dressing gown, socks, slippers and gloves and I still feel cold…….This is flu season and winter hasn’t even officially started yet.

For the last few days I have been making myself lots of Inguru Kotthamalli to help combat the cold I feel coming on. The tea is made by boiling Inguru (Ginger), Kottha Malli (Coriander Seed), Venivel (Coscinium fenestratum), Pathpadagam (Mollugo cerviana) and Katuwelbatu (Solanaceae virginianum). This mix is also known as Paspanguwa( Five Portions). I typically do a 4:1 reduction to get the most out of the herbs I am using.

These are all recognised Ayurvedic Herbs and can be bought in most Sri Lankan food shops. If you want the convenience factor, you can try a product like Samahan which is an instant tea manufactured using the same ingredients that you just add to boiling water to make the drink.

In the past 12 years, living in New Zealand, I have gone through a lot of Samahan packets, but it is only recently that I started making Inguru Kotthamalli the traditional way. I even managed to convince my 6 year old to try some last week when he was sick. I think the shift has come about because of my renewed interest in Sri Lankan food, but also because I am more comfortable with my heritage than I was when I first arrived on these shores…..

You come to a new land with all of the traditions and values you were brought up with and then find a big discrepancy between your beliefs and the prevailing beliefs of your adopted country. And then, if you, like me, marry a local, your belief systems are further under pressure. I found this specially true when my son was born.

My parents wanted things done according to their traditions and beliefs, I had my own views garnered from many a Pregnancy and Childbirth book I had read and my husband had his own views based on how he was raised. This gave rise to many conflicts in our home. And none of them were big things; for example, my parents don’t believe in bathing a baby in the evening, while it is very much an accepted practice in most Western Countries including New Zealand to give your baby a bath before bedtime. Another conflict arose because of the idea of “exclusive breastfeeding”. Plunket, the organisation that provides support services for children under 5 years in New Zealand were strong proponents of this. My mother wanted me to start giving the baby water from a young age. A very sensible idea I have now come to realise. But under the rules of “exclusive breastfeeding”, you weren’t supposed to do this.

I am older and wiser now and if I had to do it all over again, I would do things differently. Most important of all, I would have more confidence in myself to accept or reject the views pushed upon me by various people. I would also pay more attention to the child rearing practices of my own country because while they are different they are not wrong. After all, we have all grown up alright being raised that way…..


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