Kallu or Toddy. local alcoholic brew of Kerala and traditional tapping from palm trees i

In the state of Kerala, in the past few years, the consumption of local rural brew Kallu or toddy has become popular and now considered part of Kerala's rural culture. It is sold in shops  that lie in the midst of picturesque landscape far removed from madding crowds in the cities.. Such shops are neither decorated nor do they function in a well-built structure; they look like  wooden  shanties with a thatched roof built in a hurry.  The sign or name boards nearby direct the new customers to the shops where  alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of palm sap  are sold. This post is about the tapping of toddy for commercial consumption.   . 

These Toddy shanties (Commonly known as Toddy Shops) are rural  pubs or taverns focusing on the sale of kallu with  permit from the state government. They serve alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of palm sap.  The entire toddy-making process is eco-friendly. Palm trees require minimal water, and the naturally fermented toddy doesn’t involve harmful chemicals.

toddy or kallu taping, Kerala .ytimg.com

Above image: Palmyra palm SAP from "Natural Wine" Daily Morning Thati Kallu - Toddy palmyra SAP |(Asian palmyra palm wine; Borassus flabellifer).  Coconut, (derived from the Portuguese and Spanish languages) refers  to the fruit as well as  the palm and seed.  The entire toddy-making process in the rural environment  is eco-friendly. and the positive aspect is  Palm trees require minimal water, and the naturally fermented toddy doesn’t involve harmful chemicals.  Well  maintained palm trees can produce 300 litres of toddy per year, and iin the case of older trees the yield goes up to 400 liters per year. ..................

Kerala, Kallu shop in a rural area. techtraveleat.com

To begin with Palm trees are carefully selected, and the traditional toddy tappers  known a “Ettukayas,” climb palm trees without any safety gear, showcasing exceptional courage of conviction and skill. They use  a strong  coir rope tied with coconut husks at a 2 feet interval which for a sort of ladder to climb the tree with firm footing.  The work  of a toddy tapper is  a tedious one involving physical labor- climbing the tall coconut  trees before sunrise, collecting sap  at a dizzy height with care without harming the palms. Perching atop the tree the trapper needs special skill and  and dedication that is earned through years of experience. Using  a special  sharp knife called “aarackal,” to collect sap, is itself an art. 

Toddy tapping, .dreamstime.com
The unopened buds of the palm flower are cut open and  and the bud is made to swell followed by pounding with a hammer. Then clay pots are attached to collect  the sap a milky liquid. This palm sap extracted  by way of incising the clusters of coconut has two types - alcoholic and non-alcoholic.  A separate pot is used for collecting  Kallu and a cleaner pot for neera (non-alcoholic) which are then taken down and segregated. After limited fermentation the toddy is bottled and sent to the licensed vendors. The alcoholic content used to be around 8%, but now it is reduced to less than 4% to attract more customers. 

Why is  the palm  sap collected in the early morning?  In in the early morning time, the  sap collected is refreshing and the light drink is referred to as  Thaati Kallu ( in Telugu, Neera) Non alcoholic brew is called  "Pathaneer''  in Tamil is unfermented sap  sweet in taste. The juice collected after long fermentation process with  high alcoholic content (sour in taste)  is called  Tadi in Marath

Because of moderate climate lots of tourists visit Kerala year round and it s a boon to the state to have luxuriant vegetation beefed up by the Western Ghat mountains where lots of world famous spices are produced. In the state of Kerala Since 2009, the toddy tapping process has been part of  arrange  tours. The visitors get an opportunity to witness a slice of rural life as well as the role of trained  tappers in the Kallu making process. The Responsible Tourism Mission has as many as 110 toddy tappers registered under it.  “Over two lakh visitors have experienced the toddy tapping process as of 2023''. 

The additional advantages of toddy are many.  The suspended thick syrupy toddy settled at the bottom of toddy container is mixed with rice dough and left overnight for fermentation. This results in making  soft Appam. Normally, toddy ferments automatically after sun rise. On the 3rd day of extraction,   as the fermentation is in progress, the alcoholic content reaches to 8. After which acetic fermentation reduces the alcoholic content. 

The toddy shops in the rural areas  supply unadulterated  toddy,   means no harmful chemicals are added to improve the sedative power. Palm toddy is normally  sedative, but it is also mild laxative and helps you maintain clear, healthy stomach.