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Handia – Indian Beer Specialty From Jharkhand And Orissa

India is known as the land of spices but that doesn’t mean that it only produces spices. Every part of India has its own speciality. If you go in the north you would get Sarson ka saag and makke ki roti, if you go to central India you would get to eat some lip-smacking chole ke bhature, if you go to the east your mouth would have an amazing treat of various kinds of sweets and finally if you go to the west then you would get dhoklas, khandvi and what not.

Well, this was all about food in India. Now let’s come onto drinking. One thing which India is not given credit is the different kinds of alcohol which are available in the country. In my previous articles, I have covered about Chhangg, Bhang and Feni. In this particular article, I am going to talk about Handia. I am sure all of you who do not belong to the region of Jharkhand or Orrisa might have not heard about this drink. Well, to give you a brief idea let’s just say that it is a kind of Indian beer which is heavily enjoyed by the people of Jharkhand and Orrisa. Here are 6 things you need to know about Handia – India’s Rice Beer.

Handia, India’s Rice Beer – 6 Interesting Things

1. What is Handia?

Like I mentioned in this article before, Handia can be referred to as a rice beer. Handia is made with the help of an Indian cooking vessel which is known as a “Handi”, this is where this popular drink gets its name from. It is extremely popular among the tribal people, as a matter of fact, it is said that their festivals are incomplete without this drink. Some tribes like Santhal and Munda consider Handia as a sacred drink; though there is always a clash between these 2 tribes over who invented this popular drink. Whether it is festivals, marriages or birth anniversaries this is one particular drink which you would always find during these celebrations.


2. Karma Puja

Karma Puja is very important in many parts of our country. We should always remember one particular fact that India is an agricultural country as more than half of the GDP of India is contributed by the Agricultural sector. Karma Puja could be referred to as Agricultural Festival and is celebrated by tribal groups like Binjhwari, Baiga, Majhwar, Orgon, Munda, Santhal and Korba. It is a major tribal festival as it is associated with harvest. It is said that any tribal festival without Handia is incomplete, so you can understand the importance of this particular drink among the tribal people.

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3. How is it made? 

Now that I have told you about the importance of this particular drink, I am sure you must be curious about how India’s rice beer is made. In the making of this drink, inoculums play a very important role. Bakhar which is also known as Ranu tablets is used in the making of this particular drink. Bakhar is mixed with boiled rice and is put in a Handi for around 3-4 days with the lid slightly open so that fermentation could take place.

After the fermentation process is complete then it is filtered which gives a white colour like liquid which is the Handia. In the making of this drink the fermenter plays a very significant role, Bakhar is generally used in the case of Handi and is prepared by mixing several plant ingredients along with water and rice powder which is then given a shape of small round balls. These balls are the then allowed to ferment for 3-5 days.

4. Are there any health benefits?

Yes, there are several health benefits of taking Handia. I had mentioned before in this article that this drink plays a very important role in the lives of the tribal people. It is said that the tribal people drink it 3 times a day; during breakfast, lunch and dinner. In fact, it is said that a person can manage a week without food if there is enough Handia. You must be wondering why do people drink this drink so much? It is said that this drink saves the body from sunstroke and moreover it works like an energy drink for these people. And let’s face it tribal people are not very fortunate and there are times when they don’t get any food at all; in this case, Handia serves as a supplementary food which can take care of any deficiency which occurs within the body.

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5. Where can you find it?

This beer is not a kind of alcohol which you would be getting in wine shops. As a matter of fact, this particular drink is limited to the region of Jharkhand and Orrisa only. So, if you want to get a taste of this amazing rice beer you will need to travel to these places. When you visit here and you have the time, try to find out where this drink is made. It is not made in a normal factory; it is made by the tribal women which help in generating income for their household. The making process might interest you and if you remember the steps you can try to make this rice beer at home as well.

6. What is the price?

Well, how much do you think would be the price of this drink? If you buy a bottle of Kingfisher it costs you like Rs. 140, if you buy a bottle of Budweiser it costs you Rs. 220, if you buy a bottle of Corona it costs you Rs. 350 and the costs keep on going up as you increase the level of the brand. You would be shocked to know that a glass of Handia costs only Rs. 5! Yes, guys just Rs. 5 can get you a happy high! And the best part is unlike other alcoholic beverages this doesn’t give you a hangover. Don’t be judgmental! Trust me, the taste is better than that of Kingfisher and the best part is that it is totally natural.

So, these are the 6 things you need to know about Handia. Like I say in every article, drinking for fun is okay but you should never make it a habit. What are you waiting for? Pack your bags and leave for Jharkhand to try India’s rice beer!

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Featured “Photo of Beer sampler” by Quinn Dombrowski under CC BY-SA 2.0

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