Friday, October 19, 2012

Feni from Goa


Fenny or feni is a spirit made from either coconut or the juice of the cashew apple, made in the Indian state of Goa. Fenny is classified as a 'country liquor', and therefore not sold outside the state of Goa. Goa has registered for a geographical indicator that would allow it to claim the sole right to term drink created in the region as fenny or "Goan cashew feni".

The word feni is derived from the Sanskrit word phena ("froth"); when the liquor is shaken in a bottle or poured in a glass some froth is formed.

In the traditional method of making cashew fenny, the cashew apples are crushed and formed into a cake that is tied with string. This is placed in a stone basin with an outlet for the juice, called a coimbi, and a heavy boulder is placed on top. The juice expressed is known as neero, which is sometimes used medicinally as a laxative. The neero is collected in a large earthen pot called a kodem, which is buried in the ground and left while the juice ferments for several days.

Traditional distilling methods for fenny, known as bhatti, use an earthenware still consisting of a boiler (known as a bhann) and a collecting pot (launni). Cold water is continuously poured on the launni to aid in condensing the distillate. The initial distillation, known as urrac (Arrack) is about 15% alcohol (30 proof ). Urrac may be consumed neat or mixed with soda or other soft drinks. The urrac is distilled again to increase the alcohol content. Fenny is the second or third distillation of the urrac, which can be up to 45% alcohol (90 proof).

There are thousands of traditional mini-distilleries or stills in Goa that manufacture either cashew fenny or coconut fenny. The popular commercial brands of fenny are Cashyo, Reals, and Big Boss.

High-grade fenny is 40% alcohol by volume. Fenny is often used in cocktails; three common mixers are cola, tonic water and lemonade, but it can also be enjoyed on its own on the rocks, or with a slice of lime.

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