How much do you know about locally brewed liquors of India?Jan 10, 2018
If we delve a little deeper into the history of our country we can find the mention of 'Soma' , 'Sura', or 'Madura' in great Indian epics like the Puranas or Vedas. They were nothing but the first indigenously brewed drinks people enjoyed. If we push history a little further we can find that clay and distillation apparatus excavated from the sites of Indus Valley Civilization revealed that people practiced both fermentation and distillation of beverages using sweet and starchy items. Though our society frowns upon the idea of alcohol consumption, the truth is that alcohol has been consumed in India for centuries and many local tribes have their own best brewed concoction.
Chhang also known as 'hot beer' keeps people of Ladakh and Sikkim warm in the grueling cold climate of the Himalayan region. It is an indispensable part of socio-cultural life. Chhang is prepared by fermenting Barley or Millet for a minimum of 10 days. It is served in bamboo tumblers where boiling water is added to fermented seeds at the bottom.
Chuwara is mostly consumed in Tripura. The preparation of this drink is an elaborate process. A variety of raw materials like rice, pineapple and jackfruit are used to make this drink.
Like its name, the drink is mainly fermented from Mahua flowers that is known among the tribals in Jharkhand because of its medicinal values. Sadly, brewing this drink is illegal in the state. English anthropologist and visiting professor at Institute of rural management, Anand (IRMA) Felix Padel, during a visit to Jharkhand had tasted Mahua and expressed surprise over government not picking it up to develop as an industry. "I wonder why people in India would prefer French wine and English scotch when something fresh and rejuvenating like mahua and salpo are available," said Padel, who is a descendant of Charles Darwin.
Kullu, Kallu or Toddy
One of the most popular local drinks in Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, the making of the drink is a simple process. Collected from the flowers of coconut or palm trees, the non alcoholic juice when kept for fermentation produces the toddy. These are available readily in local liquor shops or with individual vendors in rural areas.
It is a form of rice beer popular across Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Brewed by tribes in an earthen pot along with herbal root called ranu for 2-3 days, the tribes use it as a refreshing drink and also as a common beverage during socio-cultural occasions like marriage. The tribes claim that one can survive on this drink for 10-15 days without the need for any other food.
Popular across Himachal Pradesh, it is made with a variety of flowers like apricots, apples, grapes and peaches. Transparent like vodka, it smells of apple. This drink is dear to locals that they prefer this over any foreign liquor.
Maybe the most popular in the list, it doesn't need any introduction. Made with cashew apples or coconuts, it is fermented for four days. It is popular for making unique cocktail mixes. It is the first Indian alcoholic beverage to possess a Geographical Indication (GI) registration.