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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Khaung (Indigenous Beer)

Khaung” is a kind of alcoholic beverage made locally in some parts of Myanmar, mostly among ethnic people. There are various kinds of “khaung” produced locally but most widely known are Kachin and Chin khaungs. I don’t know about Kachin khaung, but I have some knowledge about Chin khaung that I could share with you.

In Chin state, the most famous khaung is made in Southern Chin State, especially in Mindat Township. In contrast to khaung from other ethnic people, Chin khaung is made from millet seeds, not rice or sticky rice. Every family in Mindat grows millet seeds in their farms solely for the purpose of making khaung.

The process of khaung making is as follows. First, red millet seed is cooked until it becomes thick. Then it is allowed to cool down. Once it is cool down, yeast is added to it and blends properly. Then it is put into a clay pot and sealed air tight. Fermentation takes place inside the sealed pot. This process takes at least a month, but the longer the fermentation time, the better the quality of khaung. To get a really good quality khaung, it needs at least six months of fermentation.

After a certain period, it is ready to drink, but you need to make beverage or khaung from this mixture. The pot is opened, and water added into the pot. Banana leaves are put above the content and a straw is inserted into the pot. Khaung is then siphoned through the straw and into the cup. First cup is the best and usually served to the guest of honor. When water contents in the pot lowers, more water is added, again and again, until there is no more taste.

The taste of Chin khaung is sweet, and a bit sour. It tastes somewhat like a mix of alcohol, grape fruit juice and lemonade. Khaung plays a very important part in Chin culture. If you are offered a cup of khaung in Chin Hills, don’t refuse under any circumstance. You are considered a guest of honor and refusal of the offer will be considered rude.

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