Thursday, June 16, 2011

Curd + treacle = yowza!

This was one of my favouritest things I ate in Sri Lanka. Its a typical dessert that needs no cooking. Seriously? Hell yeah! 

As usual though, I was a little slow on the uptake. I found out that I am not as adventurous when it came to trying new food combinations as I thought I was. 

When I first heard of this dessert — buffalo curd and treacle — I was aghast. Curd and treacle? Seriously? No thank you. 

I was in Sri Lanka for eight days and I turned my short, umbrella-shaped nose at this dessert. 

I wasn't until three days before we were set to leave the beautiful country that I was persuaded to try the dessert. Hasantha, our guide/driver, ordered a rather sizable portion and offered us some to try. 

Not wanting to appear rude, I agreed to try a teaspoon. Just a teaspoon, I said, giving Hasatha the excuse that I was stuffed from dinner.

I was so wrong. The sourish flavour of the yoghurt contrasts so well with the sweetness of the palm sugar. The soft silky texture of the curd, with the thick, stickiness of the treacle? It's like day and night: two halves of a whole. 


Curd and treacle is now my absolute favouritest dessert, not just in Sri Lanka but possibly of all time. Made with buffalo milk (and, says Hasantha, Buffalo milk ONLY), the Sri Lankan curd is thick, reach and creamy. And the Sri Lanka treacle (kithul Pani) is a thick, full-bodied syrup made from the sap of the Kithul palm. The Sri Lankans believe that treacle used to be the food of their kings past and the high quality and esteem of the country's treacle even now is a sign of blessing from the old kings.

Legendary! How cool.

So, what did I do? Bought myself a bottle of treacle of course! Hasantha advised me against buying "just any bottle" that I may come across. Some producers mix the treacle with brown sugar syrup to darken the colour and sweeten the taste. 

"Buy the good quality one. Organic is good," said Hasantha. 

I bought organic. Very good. Wish I'd bought three bottles. I am already well into my only bottle and I've been back from Sri Lanka barely a week.

As I said, there is no recipe just some (hopefully) helpful suggestions. 

First: Use top quality yoghurt. Greek yoghurt is good: nice and creamy. Or, buy regular yoghurt and strain it in cheesecloth till all the whey drips out.

Eat when cold. Yoghurt cold, treacle at room temperature that is. 

If you can't get your hands on treacle (I've seen it once or twice here), use palm sugar syrup (gula Melaka). It's not the same but its close. 

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