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The Chowk

Solmari Dabakka: The Yeti’s Favorite Drink in Hobart

Chhaang, Chang, or Chhyang is a popular alcoholic drink commonly enjoyed in Nepal and Tibet as well as in parts of India, Pakistan, and Bhutan. Usually made from fermented barley, millet, or rice, Chhyang is similar to another Nepali alcoholic drink called raksi but cloudier in appearance. Moreover, Chhyang resembles a type of Japanese rice wine, Nigorizake, another alcoholic beverage renowned throughout the world, more closely.

Depending on the duration of fermentation, it can be lightly fizzy. Rice Chhyang is creamier and whiter than Chhyang made from barley. This relative of beer has a milky off-white appearance, sometimes with a gritty texture imparted by the floating remnants of rice or grain, and has a sweet yet tangy flavor. Although it has a low alcohol level, generally around 6%, it can leave you feeling slightly buzzed.

Often dubbed the Himalayan beer, Chhyang plays an integral role in many social and religious occasions in Nepal, including welcoming guests, making religious offerings, settling business deals, and initiating courtship. It is also called Ji by Tamangs, Thon by Newars, Phee by Thakalis, Jand by Gurungs and Kiratis, Muna by Majhis and Janra by Tharus. Chhyang is a versatile drink as it can be enjoyed chilled or at room temperature during the summer or consumed hot in the cold weather, making it the perfect drink for harsh winters. It’s no surprise that the drink is so popular in the mountainous regions of Nepal.

Another reason why Chhyang has become an indispensable part of everyday life for a large portion of the Nepali community is that it is quite easy to prepare. The grain of choice (usually rice, millet, or barley) is cooked and chilled then mixed with the traditional starter called “murcha”. After allowing this mixture to ferment for several days, some clean water is added, and the container is kept sealed. After one or two days, it will have become a delicious libation. As much of the Nepali society where Chhyang is prevalent is based on agriculture, grains are readily accessible for making Chhyang. There are places in Nepal where the majority of the households brew their own alcohol at home. Due to the ease of production, thousands of families, and small taverns in every other corner, the volume of production is high while the prices remain low. So, it has become a cheaper alternative to buying foreign drinks like beer.

This trifecta of affordability, unique flavor and rich cultural significance is why we decided to bring the drink of the Himalayas to Hobart. It is so enticing a drink that even the Yetis love it and often raid the local villages for the delectable beverage, well, at least according to the local lores. The Yeti’s favorite drink is quickly becoming the favorite at The Chowk. Our Solmari Dabakka, Chhyang served in a traditional brass bowl with beaten rice, chhoila, and sadheko bhatmas has been preferred by many when they visit The Chowk. Many find solace and comfort in the drink in a foreign land. So, drop by The Chowk to taste the Himalayas.

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