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Courtesy: Devraj / DailyIndia / ANI

Raia, Apr 3: The summer season is on in Goa, and what better way to enjoy than with a bottle of traditional Feni.

The cashew fruit-based local brew is doing the rounds of various coastal hamlets in the State.

A visit to tiny hamlet of Raia in North Goa District, reveals the legacy of traditional Portuguese liquor. Here, makers of Feni are upbeat about the brew getting international recognition.

Every year, when cashew apples ripen between March and May, brewers have a heyday, extracting traditional liquor. Cultivators consider the month of April as the ideal time for harvesting the fruit.

Called 'Feni', the brew is processed after fermenting cashew-apple fruits. The fermentation process is preceded by a separation of the nuts.

Though the State also boasts of 'Madachi' Feni (or,liquor made of coconut extract), it is the 'Kajuchi' Feni (cashew-apple brew) that is more famous.

Feni, a crystal clear drink, comes at a quite a cheap price in Goa, and essentially remains a seasonal drink.

Its preparation requires a lot of manual work, in chiding the crushing of cashew apples in a basin shape juicer made out of rock. Men wearing rubber boots crush the ripened and cleaned up fruit.

The collected juice is then put into earthen pot and buried in the ground. And once the fermentation process is over, this juice is taken to a makeshift distillation plant.

Vapours of the boiling juice pass through a pipe to a drum and the condensed liquid is collected in a container. This is called 'Arrack', which is again distilled to get the end product 'Feni'.

"We sell to anyone who wants to buy from us, be it locals or traders. People come and take from us...We sell 20 to 25 pots, not bottles, a day in the season...Yes, we also sell to the governments but that is in multiples of 50s as they do not buy smaller amounts," says Chandrahas Velip, a local, who cultivates, brews and sells Feni.

There are others as well who wish to cash in on the brew's fame globally.

"As far as the outside of India is concerned, we have not initiated anything special as of today, but definitely, we are thinking of taking Goa's 'Feni' worldwide. Because Goa already has the patent rights for 'Feni' manufacturing. It is a unique product, which is known not just around India but also across the world. We are also promoting its medicinal value," aims Swapnesh Faldessai, a cultivator, distiller and an exporter.

Interestingly, the fruit is collected only after it ripens and falls to the ground. The brewers believe that plucking unripe fruits from cashew plants makes the liquor bitter.

The cashew picking season is over by the end of April.


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