Monday, December 8, 2008

Nostalgia with Goan Feni- Our brilliant brew

Goan Feni The Goan Feni is known to hold more memories and attachments to the average Goan than being a mere intoxicating drink. For people outside Goa, the Goan Feni is being looked upon as a drink which identifies Goa with a stupor of drunkenness. While this is a miserable myth, there is no denying that the Goan Feni and Goa have become synonymous with each other given the history of its origin.

I have been used to people outside Goa asking me “ Tumhara feni bahut achha hai na?” kind of questions and it always made me wonder how this brew from Goa has become so famous with people outside Goa.

The Goan Feni thrill
While the ambience of Goa being a clean and culturally rich place with bountiful nature and sunkissed beaches gives one a feeling of peace and tranquility, the Goan feni blends with this climate with a belonging that only Goa could offer. Many havGoan cashew fruite fantasized the Goan feni in the hands of a sea drenched fisherman who landed a super catch of fish and decided to celebrate by helping himself to a peg of Goan feni and renting the air with some verses in Konkani either from goan folklore or the recently composed village ballad. Celebrations and Feni have been a part of goan joy. However intoxication with Feni is a myth especially in modern times where such excesses with the brew are avoided.

The goan feni has found its way into many world markets including the USA, Europe, Australia, Canada and even the latin Americas. With the latest certification this brew will finally get its rightful palce among the brews of the world which have a distinct origin. It will also remain to be the favourite drink for most goans who carry memories with Feni and the very mention of it to Goans abroad sends feelings of goan fervour and nostalgia.

While Feni still remains the favourite sip before dinner for many a goan, it is bound to acquire a special status given the Governments latest upgradation of the brand to a geographical origin brand which will give Feni international recognition and help it to retain its geographical origin which is Goa.

Two Varieties of Goan Feni
To many a Goan toddy tappervisitor or a tourist, the Goan Feni is the same. However to the regular goan tourist , he will know that the goan Feni is of two distinct types not be be mixed with each other . While Feni is a local brew distilled out of local sap, the sap itself is from two different sources and so two different brands of Feni are blended in Goa.

The Feni made from the sap of coconut fruit stalk which is known as” toddy’, has the final product of “Maddancho” or the Coconut Feni. However the other feni is made from the cashew fruits which are crushed and the resulting juice which is known as “niro” finally produces the” Cajuncho” or the Cashew Feni. Both the varieties have distinct tastes and are of medicinal value and known to heal people of chronic ailments in conjunction with other herbs etc. Both the varieties need a detailed procedure of preparation and while the coconut feni is being produced throughout the year, the Cashew Feni is essentially produced during the cashew crop which is from march to July .

The process of Feni preparation
The process of making the “cajuncho” or the cashew feni involves a very dedicated effort. Firstly the cashew apples are manually crushed or crushed under modernized crushers mostly atop a rocky basin cut out especially for the crushing process. This basin has a route made for the flow of the juice crushed from the cashew apples. (This juice is known as Niro and people often love to drink this juice directly as it has a delicious tase. However it needs to be had fresh before fermenting). This juice is then poured into an earthen pot which is buried inside the ground to enable the fermentation of the juice

This juice is next collected and distilled in copper pots. The same juice isGoan Feni process heated and the vapours are collected in a cooling condenser. These first distilled vapours form the “urrac ” which is also marketed as a summer drink itself.However for pure feni the The distillation process is repeated three times. While the first distilled juice obtained is known as Urrack, which is of a very low strength and is not too heady, the second distilled drink is known as Cazulo which is a slightly strGoan Feni productiononger drink than Urrack. However Cazulo is not popular and is hardly sold in markets. In fact Cazulo is a stranger to goa and is known only to the brewers. The final juice that comes out after distiliing for the third time is very powerful and highly intoxicating and is known as Cashew Feni. The cashew Feni being a product which has gone through the rigours of three distillations, has a pretty long shelf life is enjoyed much by people. Though some prefer to drink the Feni in a neat gulp others would prefer blending it with beverages such as sodas and lemon juice, etc. Good Feni can be recognized by its strong aroma and the connoisseurs of this drink will be able to recognize its quality only by a whiff of its aroma at the mouth of the bottle. Various cocktails are made with this superb brew since it has a very wide taste base.

May the blend continue to be pure and unadulterated and may it always be enjoyed within limits without excessive addiction . In the next post on Goan Feni I shall try to post some cocktails made with the great brew

Xittuk Goencar

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