Indians love their booze, and have been brewing alcoholic beverages since time immemorial. We’ve compiled this list of seven of India’s most popular and potent local liquors that demand to be tasted. From south India’s kallu to the Himalayan tongba, these ultra local liquors are among India’s best kept secrets.
Made from the sap of coconut trees, this sour beverage is toddy to some and kallu to others. Immensely popular in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telengana and Andhra Pradesh, among others this cream colored beverage is the go-to drink for a lot of Indians looking to unwind at the end of the day.
Made from the flowers of Mahua trees that are native to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand, among other states, this liquor is an essential part of local tribal celebrations. Mahua is usually a clear liquid with a milder taste and a distinct flowery smell.
This millet based hot beer is popular across Sikkim and Darjeeling, also in neighboring Nepal. The deliciously warm beverage is prepared by cooking and fermenting millet grains for up to 15 days, after which it is left to mature for months. The drink is traditionally served in a large tumbler where boiling water is poured on the fermented millet mixture.
Local to Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh, Ghanti or Ghanti Kinnaur is made from distilling apples, peaches, or apricots. A clear spirit that is enjoyed almost on the daily by locals, Ghanti is usually mild enough to be enjoyed neat.
Goa’s Feni is among the country’s best known and popular local liquors. Made either from cashew apples (kaju feni) or from coconut palm (coconut feni), the drink can be found all across the state of Goa. The Goan government is currently preparing to recognize feni as a heritage brew and for introducing tours of the feni manufacturing process.
This highly potent liquor is brewed – often illegally – all across India, particularly in the northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Made by fermenting sugarcane or wheat husk, this drink is immensely strong and hugely popular. However it has also gathered notoriety over the years for being dangerous, even fatal, when not brewed or stored properly.
Also known as hadiya, this rice beer is most popular across the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and parts of Madhya Pradesh. Boiled rice is left to ferment for up to a week with the addition of a herb mixture locally known as ranu to create this creamy beverage.