Palm Wine/Toddy/Kallu

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The best part about road-trips in India is that you would be sure to run into something that would pique your curiosity. On a recent trip we ran into a bunch of toddy tappers and had a chance to see them do their work. Apparently they start collecting only between 7-10am and the rest of the day they go about selling the toddy on a bicycle.

Extracts from wiki below:

Palm wine also called palm toddy also called “kallu”, or simply toddy, is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the palmyra, and coconut palms. This drink is common in various parts of Asia andAfrica, and goes by various names

The sap is extracted and collected by a tapper. Typically the sap is collected from the cut flower of the palm tree. A container is fastened to the flower stump to collect the sap. The white liquid that initially collects tends to be very sweet and non-alcoholic before it is fermented.

In parts of India, the unfermented sap is called neera (padaneer in Tamil Nadu) and is refrigerated, stored and distributed by semi-government agencies. A little lime is added to the sap to prevent it from fermenting. Neera is said to contain many nutrients including potash. Palm sap begins fermenting immediately after collection, due to natural yeasts in the air (often spurred 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 wine may be allowed to ferment longer, 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. Tamil Sangam literature contains many references to Toddy (kallu) and Tirukkuṛaḷ contains a chapter on “Abhorrence of Toddy”.

In Karnataka, India, palm wine is usually available at toddy shops (known as Kalitha Gadang in Tulu, Kallu Dukanam in Telugu, Kallu Angadi in Kannada or “Liquor Shop” in English). In Tamil Nadu, this beverage is currently banned, though the legality fluctuates with politics. In the absence of legal toddy, moonshine distillers of arrack often sell methanol-contaminated alcohol, which can have lethal consequences. To discourage this practice, authorities have pushed for inexpensive “Indian Made Foreign Liquor” (IMFL), much to the dismay of toddy tappers.

In the state of Andhra Pradesh (India), toddy is a popular drink in rural parts. The kallu is collected, distributed and sold by the people of a particular caste called Goud or Gamalla(Goundla). It is a big business in the cities of those districts. In villages, people drink it every day after work.

There are two main types of kallu in Andhra Pradesh, namely Thadi Kallu (from Toddy Palmyra trees) and Eetha Kallu (from silver date palms). Eetha Kallu is very sweet and less intoxicating, whereas Thati Kallu is stronger (sweet in the morning, becoming sour to bitter-sour in the evening) and is highly intoxicating. People enjoy kallu right at the trees where it is brought down. They drink out of leaves by holding them to their mouths while the Goud pours the kallu from the binki (kallu pot). There are different types of toddy (kallu) according to the season: 1. poddathadu, 2. parpudthadu, 3. pandudthadu, and 4. mogadthadu.

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