Kerala toddy shops to undergo major facelift

Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 24 (IANS): The toddy shops in Kerala are in for a major facelift.

Toddy is known as the poor man's 'scotch' and for ages shops selling the drink in the villages of the state are distinct with their look of having just bare minimum furniture and lacking the tidy settings.

But, all this is set for a change as the Kerala government, according to sources. The annual liquor policy in the new fiscal will see the toddy shops undergo a major facelift. The policy mulls to go forward with the classification of the around 3,500 toddy shops.

The proposal has been lying with the officials who have mooted that similar to the classification of bar hotels, the toddy shops also should be classified according to the facilities and more importantly the cleanliness part.

Toddy tapped in Kerala is available in two varieties, one from the coconut trees and the other from the palm trees.

The one tapped from the coconut bunches is collected in a mud pot. Due to the sediments in the pot, the juice which is similar to the colour of milk that gets collected in four hours time gets fermented and has an alcohol content of 5 to 8 per cent.

About 1.5 litres of toddy is collected both in the morning and evening from one bunch. This is available in toddy shops at a price ranging around Rs 70 for a 750 ml bottle.

For the farmer, for each bunch of toddy tapped on a coconut tree, he gets an income of around Rs 500 for a 45-day period, when the bunch gets fully tapped.

But in the case of toddy tapped from the palm trees, which too is collected in mud pots, in a day the total production is around 40 litres from one bunch.

Moreover, unlike the bars which offer Liquor, beer and wine, the biggest attraction of toddy shops is the local cuisine which includes mouth watering and spicy non-vegetarian dishes ranging from locally caught fishes, chicken and other non-vegetarian dishes.

Unlike the bars, which offer Chinese and Indian dishes of rice, the toddy shops do not offer any such types but concentrate on tapioca and different varieties of tubers, sourced locally.

Of late, women also are thronging the toddy shops, especially in tourist destinations like Alappuzha and central districts of Kerala where fresh toddy is available in plenty.

"In yesteryears in most households, especially in the central districts of Kerala, where coconut and palm trees were given for tapping, it was consumed by many including the women folk and hence the taboo associated with liquor and beer was never there. Today in some parts of the state there are well managed and well run toddy shops and one can see a good crowd of people, including women frequenting such toddy shops. If the government comes out with classification of toddy shops, it would be welcomed by all," said a toddy connoisseur on condition of anonymity.



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