No Vindaloo, Sorpotel, Racheado or Chourico is complete without it. No salad tastes as delicious without a sprinkle. Intimately associated with Goan cuisine, delicacies deprived of it fall short. Yes, it is none other than the aromatic, flavourful ‘Vinagre’ – Portuguese for Palm Vinegar.
In Goa, vinegar made from toddy is most popular. To obtain this toddy, the toddy-tapper scales each coconut palm thrice a day. In the morning and evening, the ‘vein’ of the tree at its top is opened and the sap slowly drained into attached clay pots or plastic jugs. The toddy tapper climbs the trees during the scorching afternoon. In order for the tree to recover its lost fluids, the openings are sealed. To provide the toddy tapper a foot-rest to climb with ease, little niches are carved into the tree. Once in the tree tops, he supports himself by the base of the palm leaves. Some tappers use a coir rope lasso around their feet to scale the bark and then use it to fasten themselves to the bark while working. Now-a-days, new contraptions are available to make climbing easier.
From Sap to Vinegar
Toddy Tapping is traditional done for three consecutive days. Enough Sur (sap) is collected from the coconut trees to fill up a large jug. After collecting enough Sur, it needs to be processed for a month to a year. This results in the formation of vinegar by fermentation. This Sur is stored in clay or glass jars, to enhance its flavour. The vinegar is whitish in colour. To give it a nice robust brown colour and distinct flavour, a clay roof tile is heated red hot and immersed into the liquid. A handful of grain is roasted over a wood fire and added to this concoction. ‘Goa Vinegar’ is highly sought after as it gives a unique flavour to food it is associated with.
This ‘all Natural Coconut Vinegar’ has medicinal benefits as well. Rich in Vitamins like Potassium, Beta-Carotene, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Sodium and anti-oxidants, which makes this natural food such a great part of your diet.