Saturday, October 15, 2011

Toddy, Kallu, Madhu, Neera or just Coconut palm wine

Toddy, Kallu, Madhu, Neera or just Coconut palm wine
As ornaments are to women; Intoxication has been the weakness of males; it has been there for millenniums and will be there as long as human beings will be living here on the face of the earth. People have improvised many techniques to get intoxicated like smoking tobacco, hash, eating opium, drinking all sorts of liquors like beer, wine brandy whisky etc. Among all them; Kallu or toddy (pronounced as cull) is perhaps the most difficult thing to be produced; but with a glassful inside the pain of producing or paying for it vanishes; that is magic with toddy or palm-wine! It is white in color sweet in taste and act slow; with enduring impact.

A toddy tapper

Toddy is called that even the Gandharvas (demigods who visited earth at random) quenched their thirst with this holy brew. Those who tap it are called toddy tappers. They are healthy and generally hard-working as only such people can perform this hazardous job of climbing several trees and performing this hard work. They wear a short loin-cloth for easy climbing and a belt with which a wooden flat box which carries a sharp flat knife, some mud in a tiny pot, a plastic jug and big femur bone of antelopes dangling on the belt -reminding a NYPD (New York Police Department) officer with belt that contain baton, gun, phone and other paraphernalia. Contractors who lease coconut trees from their owners on yearly basis; entrust the job of tapping on toddy tappers. For easy climbing coconut husks are attached with coir on the tree in every two feet interval lengths; changing a tree in to a ladder.

The making

The tapper climbs at the top of the tree and select a half matured bud, cut its top shapes its ridge with the mud and place a mud pitcher so that the oozing liquid is collected in the pitcher without losing even a drop. He mildly taps the selected bud from bottom to top so that the sap flows smooth to the pitcher. His next visit is to collect the liquid in to a jar attached to the belt, descent and take the product to the contractor (two visits a day early morning and evening). That collected in the evening would be ready to use by the morning (as it becomes adequately fermented within that time). It is the fermentation that adds ‘kick’ to the brew.

‘ Kallu-kudian’ (guzzler of toddy) of the yesteryears

toddy kallu kappa curry kari naadan keralaThere were people who guzzled more than six bottles (650 ml each) of toddy in one session. Toddy guzzlers were a separate tribe; they were macho, bold acid tongued and went on abusing ordinary people of the street without any reason. Some of the bold ones even took off their cloth and tie on heads as a mark of courage. At times some may get lynched by the angry public (just part of the game). The guzzler was neither ashamed not deterred by these trivial events and when public left he reaches home and empty his anger on his hapless wife. In this process his children go to bed without food. Next day he leaves home for work as if nothing had happened! One of the main reasons for poverty on this part of the land was the affinity of workmen to this combination of kallu and kappa accompanied by hot meen curry (fish-curry).

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