Kitul Pani – The sweet sap which is loved by all
This process starts with tapping: the beady, vine-like flowers of the palm are pierced by a tapper, and drool their sap into a pot hung under the inflorescence. Each palm can be tapped around seven times in its lifetime, with each subsequent draw usually yielding less than the last. Tappers “will typically climb their palms twice a day” to make sure any cuts healed by the plant are reopened and re-tapped. This raw, watery sap is white and frothy, clinically alive with yeast fermenting it — potentially into kithul toddy or raa. To avoid this, it is “boiled down pretty much immediately” over a timber fire, which gives the treacle its woody undertones and its viscous consistency. Once boiled, the pani is ready for the plate — preserved au natural, the treacle can last a couple of months at best. Boiling it further down once makes a form of unrefined sugar which is also used for many types of sweets, desserts and even paired with unsweetened black tea.
Discover the delicious treats made out of this sweet elixir on your next visit to Sri Lanka