Last month, i was back in my favorite place in the whole wide world – Goa!
This time, it was an invitation by Goa Tourism to attend the Spirit Of Goa festival,
a unique new 3-day fest that celebrates the cashew harvest season and promotes the heritage spirit of the state – feni.
Launched 2 years ago as the Coconut & Cashew Festival, this year the state has rebranded the fest to make it more fun, educational as well as entertaining. In their own words, it was all about ‘food, fun and feni!’ 🙂 What’s not to love about that?!
Cashew apple – neero – urrack – cajulo – feni
Feni isn’t new to me, and i’ve personally been a fan since i first tried it on my first ever Goa trip back in 2004!
If you’ve never tried it before or don’t know hat i’m talking about, let me first tell you the what, how and why of Goa’s favorite tipple…
Feni can be made from cashew as well as coconut, but the more popular and flavorful feni comes from cashew apple.
You’ve probably had the cashew nut, but the cashew apple is not a common delicacy, so let’s also break down a few myths about it.
- Although it is highly acidic and seemingly rancid, the cashew apple is juicy and delicious – and perfectly safe to eat.
- Technically the cashew apple is not a ‘true’ fruit but an accessory fruit and can be consumed directly.
Cashew juice is called ‘neero’ and is truly a delicacy (i’m personally a big fan!).
Neero is further distilled into urrack, which is 15% alcohol, followed by cajulo (43% alcohol) and finally feni (45% alcohol content).
Thus, feni is a triple distilled spirit. Click here for further details on this process.
Or here’s an excellent video i found on YouTube that may make you fall in love with feni as well…
Greeting Hansel: The Cazulo Story & Farm Visit
I had recently watched a cool farm visit vlog by RobInTheHood on YouTube, so i was supremely excited to find out that we would be visiting the same farm and the man behind Cazulo – a local Goan brand of feni that is working hard to give the heritage spirit its due place in the alcohol market around the world.
Located in Cuelim, just 30 minutes south of the Dabolim airport in Goa lie a bunch of cashew plantations from where Hansel and Cazulo source their feni from. While he is busy building an experiential tour and chic bar, we got to see the entire process from juicing to fermentation to distillation.
Cazulo also launched Cazulo Premium Dukshiri – a new blend of feni at the Spirit Of Goa festival, combining the sharp taste of coconut feni with the tanginess and bitterness of sarsaparilla – one of my favorite South Indian superdrinks which is very easily available in Bengaluru as ‘nannari sharbat’. Although i didn’t get to try this at the festival, i cannot wait to get my hands on one of these bottles!
Exchange Of Cultures
Hansel from Cazulo told us some very interesting trivia that baffled me personally…
Sugarcane is not native to Brazil, and the Portuguese took it there. Brazilians make liquor from it – cachaca
Cashew is not native to India, and the Portuguese brought it here from Brazil. We make liquor from it – feni
What’s remarkable here is that the host country doesn’t make the alcohol, but they make it from the foreign product! Such an interesting mix of cultures, i thought 🙂 I hope you’ll give feni a try next time, and look out for such fabulous events whenever you plan a Goa visit again!
My Favorites at Spirit Of Goa 2018 Festival
- Condi Miri Miri – a blend of spices muddled into Cazcar’s ‘Launi’ feni + Sprite / Limca.
2. Jungle Juice – urrak and Limca seasoned with green chilli.
Happy drinking and discovering the spirit of Goa!
Here’s another awesome video, and some more serious reading material about feni…
Further Reading About Feni & Spirit Of Goa
- LBB: Folk Music, Wine & Goan Food: Make Your Way To This Festival To Get Your Spirits High
- Giggle Water 411: Should Feni Be India’s Heritage Spirit?
- Chicago bartenders are acquiring a taste for the challenging Indian spirit feni
- LiveMint: Taking feni to the world
- Herald: An ode to Feni – The spirit from the fruit of Goan soil
- Herald: A revolution is brewing in Goa …and it’s intoxicating!