Goa is a small state on the western coast of India with wonderful beaches and party scenes. Another best thing that comes from this state is their traditional spirit called Feni. Many of you must have already tried it and loved it. Those who are planning to go to Goa, this should be on your list of must try.
This golden brown spirit is the locally made in the hills and villages of Goa.The word Pheni comes from the Sanskrit word phena, which means froth. Hence, the name – Feni. It is seasonal and distilled from February to mid of May. Been in the Goan culture for years now, ask any Goan grand mother and she will happily prescribe Feni over any other medicine for cough and cold. It is a very organic drink that comes sans any artificial colour or flavour. For those who enjoy sea food, feni with fried fish is a match made in heaven.
Feni is the heritage spirit of Goa, which means it cannot be made or sold anywhere outside Goa. Feni earned its geographical indication in 2009. Geographical indication to a certain beverage acts as a process and quality indicator. So, Feni bought from Goa would be made using the traditional methods and would be the best in taste.
Process of Making
The way Feni is made is quite an interesting process. It is a triple distilled spirit made out of Cajun or Cashews as we know them. It is made out of the ripe cashew apples. The cashew apples after being de seeded under go the stomping process. Originally with less of machines involved stomping was done, but now a days press is also used to get the juice out of the apples. The juice that is produced is a clear colourless liquid called Neero (Niro). Neero is also consumed as a refreshing drink.
Neero is made to ferment underground for a few days in earthen pots. The fermented liquid is then distilled in earthen pots. Now a day, with commercialisation of the produce, plastic cans and copper pots are also used for the distillation process.
Since Feni is a tripe distillation spirit, the first distillate obtained from Neero is called Urrack. Urrack is about 15% alcohol content. Urrack is then again mixed with some Neero for the second distillation process to obtain Cajulo which has about 43% of alcohol. Cajulo is then mixed with some Urrack for the third distillation which finally gives us Feni, which is about 45% alcohol content.
Distillation is a process in which the liquid that needs to be distilled, in this case Neero, Urrack or Cajulo is boiled at one end in a pot, the fumes travel to another pot which has running cold water to cool the fumes down to liquid again.
Alcohol content in Feni differs between North and South Goa. In North Goa it is generally 43% while in South Goa it is between 43-45% alcohol content. Since Feni with 45% alcohol becomes a very strong liquor it is also available in the market as double distilled. Now a days one can also buy Cajulo and Urrack with commercial branding.
So here is the deal, if you love to try new drinks, open up your full bar when ever you have little get togethers at home, Feni would be a nice choice to offer. Don’t forget to pick yourself some when you’re next time in Goa.