It’s urrak season in Goa. It is the first distillation of fermented cashew apple juice that is harvested during this time of the year in the sunshine state. Locals enjoy urrak by mixing it with Limca with a dash of lime. When this spirit is further distilled and aged, it transforms into the most celebrated spirit of Goa: feni.
To witness this distillation first hand and interact with local producers, visit the three-day festival Spirit of Goa held at Colva in south Goa. Apart from spirits from cashew, visitors will get to sample coconut feni. The spirit has been a favourite among the locals for generations and now it has reached premium bars across India.
To make the festival interactive and engaging, there is a line-up of activities: from cashew stomping competition to food and drinks masterclasses and cooking demonstrations of regional specialties. Alongside food, there will be handicrafts made from coconut available for purchase.
Goa is awashed with restaurants and home chefs offering global as well as regional cuisine from different states of India. Festivals like these put the spotlight on local food traditions and encourage Goa’s small scale entrepreneurs, distillers and homecooks. Traditionally urrak is made at home and not sold commercially. The pure version is difficult to come by, but you might taste non-spurious and freshly distilled urrak at the festival. Also, be ready to sample food, like sannas, marzipan and curries, prepared with cashew and coconut.
Apart from promoting local produce and entrepreneurs, the festival aims to create awareness of Goa’s food culture. It is a great opportunity to dive deeper into its rapidly changing culinary landscape. To know more, look up the Instagram page, @thespiritofGoa. The festival will take place from April 21-23.