- Goa's "National" Drink
Gently swaying coconut palms and bright red or yellow cashew apples can be found occupying Goa's half landmass under crops and their sap or juice is the source of Goa's popular "national" drink, Feni.
Making Of Feni
Palm Feni is pure but a strong drink ranking with the strongest spirits. It comes from Toddy, which is produced by tapping the sap from the base of the young palm shoots. Growers have to choose between producing Feni or coconuts because once tapped, the young shoots cannot go on to produce nuts, but the decision can be reversed with the next growth of shoots according to market demand.
Unfermented, the Toddy make a nourishing and refreshing drink and when strained and boiled down to crystallising point, it produces palm jaggery, the coarse brown slabs of sugar used in Goan sweet dishes.
Within hours of tapping, the Toddy ferments to about 4% of alcohol. Often, it is drunk soon afterwards, but when distilled, the first gives the more potent Urrack, a favourite drink sold in the local bars.
Types Of Feni
The famous palm Feni is the result of the second distillation. It's name in Goa's local language 'Konkani' means 'froth', a name attributed to its reaction during processing.
A second type of Feni that is even more popular is 'Caju' Feni derived from the cashew apple. The Cashew is the legacy from Portuguese who introduced it to Goa from Brazil. Cashew Feni is usually drunk after the first distillation, but one can also find it double-distilled, flavoured with Ginger, Cumin or Sasparilla to produce a smooth liqueur.