Toddy shops are famous around South India for serving an alcoholic beverage that is made from the sap of palm tree. ‘Toddy’ means palm wine. There are two types of toddy. The first one is rather sweet, as it is derived directly from the sap without allowing it to ferment. It’s called neera. It has a short shelf life. The second one is called kallu. It takes 2-3 hours for the fermentation process to begin after the collection of the sap. This helps the liquid to turn into a sour beverage. Down south, people prefer both types of toddy. Toddy is not the same as hot toddy. 

In Kerala, toddy is considered a health drink. It is also sold in toddy shops, as mentioned. Sitting in a tiny toddy shop off the beaten path, surrounded by lush greenery and the view of the backwaters in Kerala is something that you should consider doing at least once.  Now, you may be wondering how Indians pair their palm wine and food?

   

There is an old stereotype that Indian food and wine do not pair well together. But Indian food is ridiculously good at toddy shops, and eating some well-known delicacies with toddy is a lip-smacking experience. The chilli factor in the dish needs to be toned down so that it doesn't overpower the taste of the drink. But look at it the other way: perhaps the sweetness of the drink will tame the heat, or the sourness of kallu will complement the spiciness. Going to a toddy shop is the perfect opportunity to sample some of the regional culinary fare of Kerala that explodes with flavour. Some of the cuisine specialities that you can include crab roast, anchovy fry, prawn fry, duck roast, rabbit meat along with parottas and appams. 

Toddy shops are also very clean. Of course, there are some exceptions. Mostly however, you’ll really enjoy the ambiance, pocket-friendly prices and the warm hospitality of the owner. But this is an experience that is often compared to being the opposite of luxurious, as the shops are old and the standard of hygiene is good but basic. But if you want to explore the riches of food and drink culture, the toddy experience is a must, as ironic as it sounds. A lot of tourists have said that drinking toddy is a jaw-dropping experience.  

Do share your experience with us!