The first meal I had in Sri Lanka was curd and pani. Sri Lankan ‘curd’ is like Greek yogurt or clotted cream: rich creamy buffalo milk, boiled and set in a clay pot, the cream settled atop it like a blanket. This was drizzled with pani, or palm syrup, boiled down and smokey, the flavor part maple, part molasses. Z and I were sitting around his parents table, our eyes bleary with travel. “One day I’ll have to take you to the south,” Z said, “where the best curd is made.” I nodded and had another serving.
As we drove north from Tangalle we began to see paddy fields, buffaloes and their birds, and then curd shops along the road. We stopped at several. Our favorite was Lata’s Curds.
Lata rinsed three bowls and three spoons in a basin, set the curd and pani on the table in front of us, and began to serve generous portions.
More pani? More curd? When we had eaten all we could Lata wrapped up a pot of curd to go.