Summer is here and so is an abundance of cashew apples in Goa; the source of two of the most beloved indigenous liquors in the state. But did you know that there are notable differences between urak and feni? Read to know more.
With the sun shining bright on everyone as they take off for a beach vacation to Goa, you’re most likely to bump into people at dive bars and shacks sipping on feni – the indigenous cashew liquor which has now found new ground in high-end bars’ cocktail menus. With cashew apples beginning to flood markets during summers in Goa, the seasonal indulgence of urak, a less-distilled counterpart of feni is sold in plastic bottles all over the place.
Unlike feni, which is distilled twice and contains close to 45% alcohol, urak has a shorter shelf life and contains only 15% alcohol. Urak is typically consumed with kokum extract, slit green chillies, local limes and Limca whereas feni has a number of uses in cocktails that contain spicy or sweet flavours and compliment both spectrums of flavour. Feni, which has a very distinct liquorish flavour differs from urak in a way that the latter possesses a fruity flavour.
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Urak, Goa’s “jungle juice” is known to be the poor man’s drink whereas feni has now moved into a space that is artisanal and refined. The distillation process of urak in Goa continues to happen in traditional ways in a lot of places even today and rested in vintage glass bottles known as garrafãoes. Urak was also known in the earlier days to be an effective digestive drink whereas the twice-distilled feni that is sure to give the drinker a heady buzz is distilled in earthen pots that are partially buried underground (matheyachi bhaan).
Feni is also a drink that is extracted from coconuts, another ingredient that is freely available in the tropical state. Due to its freshness, urak tends to have a relatively pungent taste due to which stronger flavours like lime and chillies offset the potency of the liquor. Goan feni has a frothy consistency when shaken vigorously but is clear due to the double distillation, whereas urak differs in this specific characteristic and has a cloudy appearance.