Cheers to Chee, the Beer of the Lepchas

cheers to chee the beer of the lepchas

A major reason to travel again and again to a place is often the flavours that it offers, both in terms of food and drink. Food is the best way to a traveller’s heart, and when you throw in a local tipple into the mix, the smorgasbord is a tantalising one. Sikkim, which is known for its wealth of local drinks, is also home to the Chee, more commonly known as the Chhang among people across Sikkim, Tibet and Nepal. If the Apong is the beverage of choice of the Mising tribe of Assam and communities throughout Arunachal, it is the millet beer of Chee that one ought to try when you next visit the Himalayan state.

Also known as dungro or tongba in Nepali, Chee is a traditional Lepcha drink made from fermented millet. It can also be made from rice, wheat and buckwheat. On special occasions, it is also prepared from thungloo roots. To prepare the drink, millet is first filtered to remove stones and other impurities. It is then grounded in an okhli (Hindi) or tukcham (Lepcha) using a moosal (Hindi) or tuling (Lepcha). It is then cooked on fire and later kept to cool down in the talung. Yeast is then added to the drink. It takes two to three days for the fermentation and a distinct smell indicates that it is ready to consume…

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