Palm wine: also called kallu (Telugu: కల్లు,Tamil: கள்ளு, Malayalam: കള്ള്), palm toddy, or simply toddy (Hindi: ताड़ी), is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the palmyra, date palms and coconut palms (that paragraph was shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia (but that’s why it’s there hey?))
In Sri Lanka it is simply called Raa. You will not find it in a wine shop…this is part of the fun. You get it from toddy sellers (not to be confused with kassipu sellers, which is moonshine and horrid…not to mention deadly if you become addicted). Toddy is a cloudy palm wine (roughly about 7% or 8% alcohol content)….it’s quite pungent but tastes nice.
It is mostly drunk early morning when freshly made – like 5am or 6am…manual workers, agricultural workers etc. always pop in for a glass or two to get them set up for the day. Fresh is best. I have heard horror stories about rats in the vats etc. So if you really want to try it – go early and with somebody who knows what they are doing – oh and bring your own plastic bottle or plastic glass. Some of the clientele are not the healthiest lot. Alcoholics regularly frequent these places before the wine shops open. It’s dirt cheap. GO WITH SOMEBODY YOU TRUST.
But it’s a hell of a lot of fun and tasty. Like a plastic glass of warm Scrumpy at Glastonbury festival. It tastes like cider. For my Dutch and American friends I have no alternative – just try it (it’s like apple beer). Go easy though – it is also potent 😀