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Mahua – 5 Things You Need To Know About India’s Rice Beer

India is one of the few places in the world which can brag about the different kind of alcoholic beverages available in its states. If you go to north India, you can get the typical “desi daaru”, if you go to central India then you can try traditional drinks like Chhangg and Bhang; go to the west and you can get drinks like Handia; so to sum it up wheresoever you go in this country you would get 2 things in plenty. The first being amazing food (that’s why India has been called the land of spices) and the second amazing locally brewed alcohol.

In this article, I am going to talk about one particular drink which has its origin in Jharkhand, India and that drink is Mahua. Around 5 years back, it got a lot of limelight when the government decided to bottle and sell it in the country as a mildly alcoholic drink. Just like Handia, this drink is considered to be sacred by the tribal people of the Jharkhand region. Since Mahua has been commercialized it has been a major source of income for many families; the men and women work in the factories which produce Mahua which helps them earn their daily livelihood. In this article, I would be talking about 5 things you need to know about Mahua

Mahua The Desi Daru  Of Jharkhand

1. What is Mahua?

In my previous article, I had talked about Hadiya which is a popular drink among the tribal people. Mahua is another drink which is popular among the tribal community and since it has been legalized and commercialized by the government it earns way more fame than Hadiya. It is considered to be a sacred drink for the Adivasis and it is said that if this drink is distilled properly then it is the best alcoholic drink one can hope to have.

See Also -   Handia – Indian Beer Specialty From Jharkhand And Orissa

Mahua’s chief ingredient is the Mahua tree (found in the deciduous forests of India); it is commonly found in states like Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Orrisa, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and West Bengal. The flowers produced by the Mahua tree are very rich in sugar (the sugar content can go up to 75%); so this tree is not only a source of minerals but is also the key ingredient for alcoholic fermentation.

Mahua beer photo
“Photo of Vānaprasthh” by Dinesh Valke under CC BY-SA 2.0

2. How is it made?

Like I mentioned before the chief ingredient of this particular drink is the flowers obtained from the Mahua tree. The flowers are fermented to an extent when a colourless liquid is obtained (which is mahua).

Generally, the common complaint among most people who do not prefer to drink alcohol is the foul smell they encounter when they drink it. Since Mahua has the smell of mahua flowers; it gives a really good smell which makes it easier to drink. Moreover, it is totally natural and is free from synthetic and chemicals which makes it more like juice than an alcoholic drink. It doesn’t leave you a hangover so you can drink without worrying about the morning headache.

3. Involvement of Government and TRIFED

TRIFED or Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India has been involved in the marketing of this popular alcoholic drink. TRIFED has planned it to sell it like a Breezer which is filled with different flavors. The managing director of TRIFED has stated that they are planning to add flavors to Mahua such as carom seeds, ginger, pomegranate and sell it like a mild- alcoholic beverage. If we go by the sources then it is said that this drink would be produced in Bastar. The people of India trust the government like anything and now since the government is involved with this drink there is a high probability that it would be generating huge profits because the citizens have the faith that it would be less harmful than the other drinks which are sold in the market.

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4. How to drink it?

There are several ways to drink Mahua. The most traditional way of drinking it is to put the liquid in a leaf cup and ensure that you are surrounded by forests so that you get the real feel. Well, in order to get this feeling you would need to travel to some of the tribal regions, but assuming that most of you don’t have that much time there is an alternative approach of drinking it. Since mahua has been commercialized there are a few bars in our country which are pouring mahua into classy glasses and even making cocktails out of it. They are serving Mahua cocktails alongside some matching side dishes which is slowly becoming a viral trend. Since this is gaining popularity the marketing team of this drink is also making efforts in improving the distribution channel so that they could ship this drink to better places so that it gets even more popular.

5. Problems with Mahua

Though Mahua has been commercialized and is becoming popular every day but this industry is facing a lot of problems. Firstly, there is no fixed price range for the flowers and without these flowers, there isn’t going to be any Mahua. Secondly, every tree has a specific season; now since the drink has been commercialized the liquor industry is demanding regular supply of these flowers. This has resulted in high yielding variety trees which would eventually take away the original taste of the drink. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the quality of the drink would eventually degrade. Thirdly, this drink is fermented with natural products like raisins, Kusum, jaggery or tamarind but in order to meet the demand for the product, chemicals are being used which would eventually convert this natural drink into a natural disaster.

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Every Industry has an initial struggle and Mahua isn’t going to be any different. Now, since the government has commercialized this industry, they should ensure that the demand-supply trade-off is maintained but not at the cost of degradation of the quality of the drink. A bottle of Mahua would cost anywhere between Rs. 100 – 150. The price has been kept in this range to compete with other players in the market. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a bottle and spread the word about this drink!

Featured “Photo of Hollandia Beer Wide Open” by Daniel Lee under CC BY-ND 2.0

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