14 March 2008

Neera, or Palm Juice

I asked my friend what all those painted stalls around the city were selling (possibly psychiatric advice?). From the colorful illustrations, one would guess it was the juice of the superstar coconut tree. It turns out, though, that they peddled neera, which in Pune is a sweet juice from the shindi or date palm. In other places, they harvest the juice from other palms, such as sago, palmyra, and even, yes, coconut.

For Rs5 (around Php 5 or US$ 0.12), you get a glass of the delicious thirst quencher. It tastes like coconut juice, but without the astringency. Some sources say that neera ferments so easily that it can only be sold near the place it is harvested. Keeping it cold helps to preserve it, otherwise it will shortly become palm wine, much like our fermented tuba from back home.

They say you should drink the stuff during early morning for guaranteed freshness, but we had it late afternoon. I've read about some vendors adding preservatives, who knows?

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