Traditional method of preparation
Mode of consumption
Ethnical Importance

Kodo ko jaanr is the most common fermented beverage prepared from dry seeds of finger millet [Eleusine coracana (L) Gaertn.], locally called ‘kodo’ in the Darjeeling hills and Sikkim. Jaanr is common name for all alcoholic beverages in Nepali. Different ethnic groups call it by their own dialect such as mandokpenaa thee by Limboo, sampicha ummaak by Rai, naarr paa by Gurung, saangla chi by Tamang, chirs shyaabu by Sunwar, paadaare haan by Magar, gyaar chyyaang by Sherpa, minchaa chhyaang by Bhutia, and mong chee by Lepcha.

During traditional method of kodo ko jaanr preparation, seeds of finger millet are cleaned, washed and cooked for about 30 min in an open cooker. Excess water is drained off and spread on a mat made up of bamboo, locally called mandro, for cooling. About 1-2% of powdered marcha, dry mixed starter, is sprinkled over cooked seeds, mixed thoroughly and packed in a bamboo basket lined with fresh fern, locally called ‘thadre unioon’ (Thelypteris erubescens Well ex Hook.) or banana leaves, then covered with sack clothes, and kept for 2-4 days at room temperature for saccharification. During saccharification sweet aroma is emitted out and the saccharified mass is transferred into an earthen pot or into specially made bamboo basket called ‘septu’ and made it air tight, and fermented for 3-4 days during summer and 5-7 days in winter at room temperature (Fig 8). 


Fig. 8. Flow sheet of Kodo ko jaanr preparation in East Sikkim.

Good quality of jaanr has sweet taste with mild alcoholic flavour. Prolonged fermentation makes the product bitter in taste and more alcoholic. Sour taste and unpleasant flavour of jaanr is unacceptable to consumers.

Kodo ko jaanr is consumed in an unique way in the Himalayan regions. About 200-500 g of kodo ko jaanr is put into a vessel called toongbaa and lukewarm water is added up to the edge of the toongbaa. After 10-15 min, milky white extract of kodo ko jaanr is sipped through a narrow bamboo straw called pipsing having a hole in a side near the bottom to avoid passing of grits. Water can be added 2-3 times after sipping up the extract. Guests are served with toongbaa along with fried meat or pickles. Alternately, thick milky white liquid pressed from the kodo ko jaanr is filtered using a filter called chhapani under pressure. Such liquor is believed to be good tonic for ailing persons and post-natal women. After consumption, grits of kodo ko jaanr are used as fodder for pigs and cattle. This is a good example of total utilization of substrate as food and fodder. Feeding frequency of kodo ko jaanr has been summarised in Table 3. About 70 % of people consume kodo ko jaanr daily in rural areas of the Sikkim Himalayas. Per capita daily consumption of kodo ko jaanr extract in the Darjeeling hills and Sikkim is 5.1 ml and 6.5 ml, respectively (Tamang et al., 1996).   


Table: Feeding frequency and consumption of kodo ko jaanr.

Weekly means twice in a week. Occasional means every three months.

aAmount of fermented millets kept in  toongbaa without addition of water was calculated.

bExtract of fermented grits after addition of water, actually sipped has been calculated. Data represent the means.

Values are the means of 100 households each in rural areas of the Darjeeling hills and Sikkim, respectively. Ranges are given in parentheses.

Traditional alcoholic beverages have strong ritual importance and are deep-rooted in the cultural heritage of the various ethnic groups of people in the Darjeeling hills and Sikkim. In these regions social activities require provision and consumption of appreciable quantities of alcoholic beverages by the ‘matwali’ castes meaning alcohol drinkers of the non-Brahmin Nepali community mostly Limboo, Rai, Gurung, Magar, Tamang, Sunwar, Newar and Sherpa the Bhutia and the Lepcha tribes. Jaanr and raksi are essential to solemnize marriage ceremony of non-Brahmin Hindu Nepalis and the Buddhist tribes. Fermented beverages are offered to perform the pitri puja or kul puja, the religious practice to pray family Gods and Goddesses. Among the Lepcha, mong chee or kodo ko jaanr is essential to perform various cultural functions such as lirum, sejum and namsung. Mandokpenaa thea or kodo ko jaanr, filled in toongbaa and rice-made raksi are among the important materials to perform the ritual practice of the Limboo called tonsin mundhum. In mourning, callers for condolences gathered to perform a memorial service are served traditional alcoholic beverages, a practice mostly seen among the Sherpa and the Bhutia tribes. Spirit possession by the Limboo priests called phedangma and bijuwa need freshly distilled raksi.

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