Feni Feni Feni

It’s a Drinking Man’s World !

Just as writing about good food can be frustrating, writ-ing about a good drink too can be frustrating! A drink is meant to reach the lips, playing at the base of throat just long enough to tell you she was there. The warmth of the sip and the pleasure of the lift go their ways in making you feel like a wonderful person after just a couple of them. In Goa the word is Feni.

Distilled primarily from cashewnuts, Feni is either loved or not at all by those who taste it for the first time. For Goans it is a part of their life in Goa.

Tavernas where inhibitions drop like autumn leaves and care withers like a winter’s leaf, camaraderie reigns and so does Feni. Traditionally the tavernas are not lavishly decorated. They have a log of wood for the bar and a few tables and stools. The lucky ones face the sea so that after just a few pegs you would begin counting the waves with the seriousness of trade in precious stones.

The Feni which a Goan would talk about in hushed reverential tones and holds it as close to his heart as he would his life, is generally made from cashew fruit. Often the households pick the fruits and the liquor is brewed at home. Talk to Dhulba Karbotkar and he would tell you that this art of intoxicating was learnt but two centuries ago. But the Goan male whose head is now light refutes it with great gusto as he tells you that if the Vedas (ancient texts) wrote about soma, the drink of the Gods, the Goans wrote of the Feni as long ago. It was just not recorded.

Picking juicy red cashew fruits, they are all dumped into a stone basin and stamped over. The juice is extracted and the pulp used as fuel of fertiliser. The juice, after resting for a couple of days, is then poured into a large copper vessel and covered with a wooden lid. Expectations and desire starts filling the heart when the process of distillation begins and finally 90 litres of juice is distilled to about 23 litres of Feni.

In olden times this drink used to be stored in mud pots, today beautiful bottles stand awaiting their fill.

Feni has a distinctive aroma which demands an instantaneous decision on whether you can tolerate it or not. If you like it, you need no excuse to sip it. Local lores are full of its medicinal properties as that which prevents swelling, cures throat infection and stomachs that misbehave.

Some people brew their Feni from Palm too and yet others spice up their Feni with cardamoms or pepper or cloves!

Here’s one way to drink Feni: 1/2 glass of soda, 1/2 glass Limca, dash of lemon and a pinch of salt. Cheers!