Monday, 28 October 2019

Rural brew of south India Kallu (toddy), quite popular in the state of Kerala

Bottled T\toddy(kallu), Kerala. flickr.com
Where  there are coconut or Palmyra tree groves, the assumption  among the villagers of India is positively, something is being brewed below them. This is true of South Indian states, in particular, Kerala, a palm and coconut tree land  where it is legally allowed to make palm wine called Kallu or toddy for sale. There is a saying in Tamil language: ''Pana marathadiyil thanner kudithhalum, kallu yena nenaipparkal''- meaning ''if you drink plain water below the palm tree, it is assumed that you drink Kallu.''
Drunk man shutterstock.com
A drunk hitting a woman with insensitive people around.  dbpost.com/
Palm wine, an alcoholic beverage made from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the Palmyra, date palms, and coconut palms goes by  various local  names and its consumption is  common in many parts of Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, etc. In India, palm wine has different names ''Taadi" in North India, ''sendi'' in Kannada,"Thati Kallu"  in Telugu and  "Kallu" in Tamil and Malayalam. It is more a rural brew than  an urban one and is popular in villages. 
bottled toddy (kallu). english.manoramaonline.com
The sap is extracted and collected by a tapper who  fastens  an earthen pot to the  cut flower stump of the palm tree to collect the liquid.  The white sap that initially collected in the pot is normally very sweet and non-alcoholic before it is fermented.  Well- maintained palm trees can produce 300 liters of toddy a year, but  older trees yield over 400 liters.  A farmer who owns 10 coconut trees can earn up to Rs 7,500 a month and a toddy tapper who climbs up can earn up to Rs.25000 a month. The  traditional toddy tappers are mainly from Thayya and Ezhava communities  who form 40% of Kerala's population. In other states only certain communities are traditional tappers.
India coconut climbing, Alamy.com.
The collected palm sap in the pot  begins fermenting immediately after collection, due to natural yeasts in the air (often  promoted  by residual yeast left in the collecting container). Within two hours, fermentation yields an aromatic wine of up to 4% alcohol content, mildly intoxicating and sweet. The container is buried in the ground for further fermentation up to a day to yield a stronger, more sour and acidic taste, which some people prefer. Longer fermentation produces vinegar instead of stronger wine. Optimal consumption time is one day after tapping, when the vinegar content is minimal Further, distilled  palm wine  may produce a variety of  stronger drinks, which go by different names  - arrack, village gin, charayam, and country whiskey. Refrigeration extends beverage life. 
In India and South Asia, Arecaceae and Borassus coconut palms and Palmyra palms  get preference.  Lala palm (Hyphaene coriacea)  is widely used  and  palm wine produces  unrefined sugar called jaggery by evaporation widely used in India  for cooking, etc.  
Coconut climbing .shutterstock.com
 Non-fermented sap  called neera (pathaneer in Tamil Nadu) and is legal in many states. It is just like fruit juice rich in potassium and is positively good for health.But, it has a short shelf life and is to be consumed within a time frame before it becomes stale and in-consumable. In order to delay  fermentation of Neera, lime is added to fresh toddy which is said to help keep it fresh.  It is refrigerated, stored and distributed by semi-government agencies.

In Kerala palm wine is sold in  toddy shops (known as Kallu Shaap in Malayalam, and  Kallu Kadai in  Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu (now banned in TN).  The absence of legal toddy in TN has encouraged illicit distillers to  moonshine producing  arrack  and  sell methanol-contaminated alcohol, which  sometimes may turn lethal and cause death and diseases (other forms of palm wine like arrack are banned by the govt.). To discourage this practice, authorities have pushed for inexpensive kallu in some states.)

In Kerala where hard liquor shops are strictly regulated, making  toddy is legal  and one needs a license  from the 
excise department to sell it.  Since 1917 Kallu - the sweet brew has been the official totemic drink of Kerala tourism. similar to Goa's local brew  Feni.   It is  an agrarian based industry in this state that has the largest coconut, etc groves. About  50000 people  are making their livelihood in this thriving industry  that is protected by  a welfare board under the labor department. 
 man high on alcoholic brew. shutterstock.com
If you set your foot in the picturesque Kerala state that is endowed with nature's bounty, no way you can  miss the quaint Toddy or  Kallu shanties, sort of run down wooden huts in the rural landscape tucked in the corner in the midst of greenery close to the backwaters.  They serve  both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of palm sap. They are run only by men and women are not allowed to sell it.   Exempted from excise duty, it is available year-round.  Kallu may not please the habitual drunks because of its low alcoholic content. Liquor sale in banned and is limited to certain high class hotels. so they have to be content with the local 
brew.

Toddy has an alcohol content of about 8.1% and is considered natural alcohol, and a health drink in Kerala that promotes immunity against many diseases. New regulations reduce the alcoholic content to 2% to 3 % to attract tourists. ''Traditionally toddy has been considered different from other forms of liquor,” The Kerala Abkari Act of 1902 distinctly defines toddy from spirit, beer, liquor and arrack.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_winehttps://www.holidify.com/pages/toddy-in-kerala-378.html
https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/what-is-this-
toddy/article19381334.ece