Chhaang is consumed by ethnically Nepalese and Tibetan people and, to a lesser degree, by the neighboring nations of India and Bhutan. It is usually drunk at room temperature in summer, but is often served piping-hot in brass bowls or wooden mugs when the weather is colder.
Ingredients and drinking
Chhaang is a relative of beer. Barley, millet (finger-millet) or rice grains are used to brew the drink. Semi-fermented seeds of millet are served, stuffed in a barrel of bamboo called a dhungro. Boiling water is then poured in and sipped through a narrow-bore bamboo tube called a pipsing.
When the boiled barley has cooled, some yeast or dried barm is added and it is left to stand for two or three days when fermentation begins; this concoction is called glum. The barm consists of flour and, in Balti, often has ginger and aconite added to it. After fermentation is complete, water is added to the brew and is then ready for consumption.
In Lahaul the glum is pressed out by hand instead of by filtering, yielding a rather cloudy drink. The residue of malt can be pressed through a strainer and then mixed with water or milk and used in baking bread or cakes.
In Nepal, this beverage is called tongba by the Limbus of Nepal, or jand which refers to the turbid liquor obtained by leaching out the extract with water from the fermented mash. Unlike chhang or tongba, jand is served in large mugs. These alcoholic beverages are generated using a traditional starter called murcha. Murcha itself is prepared by using yeast and mold flora of wild herbs in cereal flours.
The brew tastes like ale. Alcohol content is quite low, but it produces an intense feeling of warmth and well-being, ideal for enduring the temperatures which go well below freezing in winter.
Chhaang is said to be the best remedy to ward off the severe cold of the mountains. It reputedly has many healing properties for conditions like the common cold, fevers, allergic rhinitis, and alcoholism among others.
According to legend, chhaang is also popular with the Yeti, or Himalayan Snowmen, who often raid isolated mountain villages to drink it.
Drinking and making offerings of chhaang are part of many pan-Tibetan social and religious occasions, including settling disputes, welcoming guests, and wooing.
- Raksi - Nepalese and Tibetan distilled alcoholic beverage.
- Tibetan beer
- List of Indian beverages
- Jaschke, H. Ä. A Tibetan-English Dictionary, p. 341. (1881). Reprint: (1987). Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi. ISBN 81-208-0321-3.
- Das, Sarat Chandra. (1902). Lhasa and Central Tibet, p. 23 and note. Reprint: (1988). Mehra Offset Press, Delhi.
- Jaschke, H. Ä. A Tibetan-English Dictionary, p. 154. (1881). Reprint: (1987). Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi. ISBN 81-208-0321-3.
- Mayhew, Bradley and Kohn, Michael. (2005) Tibet. 6th Edition, p. 75. ISBN 1-74059-523-8.
- "Bhutanese". Retrieved 5 October 2014.