A short history of brewing in India

August 4, 2023

Hindu scripture has never banned alcohol outright although the Rigveda (one of the four major scriptures) counsels against it and prohibits its use among the elite brahmin caste. In fact, evidence for alcohol production in India dates back thousands of years as tools used for brewing have been found dating back to 2000 B.C while the Arthashastra, written in 3rd century B.C, even gives recipes for brewing drink. Of course, this is a different story for the Muslim population of India whose scripture places a blanket ban on alcohol.

What type of alcohol would people drink? Historically alcohol was brewed from all sorts of fruit and grains including, rice, barley, sugarcane, coconuts and sap from coconut and palmyra trees which would be fermented with rice, urad dhal (i.e. lentils) or spices and maybe sweetened with honey, jaggery or more spices.

Some of the final products include masara and prasanna, the former brewed from barley and the latter from fermented rice flour. Sahakarasura is brewed from mangoes, khajurasara is brewed from dates and kadambari is brewed from the kadamba fruit. Finally, some flowers can be distilled in order to give, for example, varuni (which is made from the blooms of the mahua tree) and jathi (which is made from jasmine).

This article features the following businesses:

Mughal Dynasty

Mughal Dynasty

Classic Indian curries and tandoori dishes served in a smart, long-running restaurant and takeaway based in Leigh-on-sea.



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