How My Parents’ Koththamalli Recipe Soothes Me to Sleep

Food is medicine in my Sri Lankan home. My parents infused their love and care for me and my sister into the food they cooked. Thaththa, my father, plated spicy sambals to comfort us during drowsy, sluggish sick days. Amma, my mother, blended leafy greens with coconut milk and cooked rice for warm glasses of kola kenda, a traditional herbal gruel we enjoyed most mornings. But whenever I came back home from school after getting soaked in a monsoonal summer downpour, my parents—fearing that I might get ill—would without fail leave a mug full of koththamalli by my bedroom door.

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