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Thwon/Jaad image
Image by Royal Raj Manandhar

Also known as Chyang, Thwon or Jaad is the partially sweet and sour rice beer made in every Newari household once in a while. It is one of the most famous mild-alcoholic beverages found in Nepal which consists of many beneficial Vitamins, Lactic acid bacteria, and yeast, for instance.

Chyang is also a traditional drink of Rai, Tamang, Gurungs, and Sherpa apart from Newa communities. But in the Newar community, Chyang is called Thwon. These days this local drink Thwon is popularized by the name “rice wine” too among international travelers.

It is somehow also famous for the name “Newari beer” and “Himalayan beer”.

Precisely, Thwon is taken as a very common part of the Newari lifestyle. It is often considered as a sort of energy drink that they used to drink before working heavy physical work such as farming. It is an integral part of festivals and social occasions too.

During the Suku Bhoye ( Traditional Newari Feast), Thwon is used as an indelible drink just like Aila. It is served on any kind of social festive occasion. In fact, no social or traditional ceremonies are assumed to be complete without Thwon.

It holds special significance even during Pujas, and Jatras. Gods and Goddesses are offered with thwon to receive an immense blessing. Some Pujas are not even initiated without Thwon.

Thwon in the Newari community is served in a special kind of earthen cup called “Sallicha” (a palm-sized earthen cup) and “Khola” (a traditional cup made of metal). Also, the distinctive type of earthen utensil called “Swoma ” is used to pour the Thwon into the small earthen cup Salli.

The common process of making Thwon

Drinking and making Thwon in Newari indigenous group is passed down from generation to generation. However, there is no specific strict method mentioned or handed over for making thwon.

The most common process includes soaking the rice for 3 to 4 days as a first step. Following the step comes the time to cook the rice.

For this, a special copper vessel, “Phoshi” is filled with a certain amount of water and is heated with a small to medium amount of flame. Hanshi ( a big earthen pot with a certain number of holes at the bottom) is then placed on top of the Phosi.

After that, the soaked rice is set inside the hanshi to be steamed. The holes beneath the earthen pot Haanshi allow the vapor emerging from boiling water to pass through that steaming the rice inside.

While going through the process it is important to mix the rice inside thoroughly once in a while so that each grain of rice is cooked evenly.

The steamed rice is then called “Haanja” (meaning steamed rice). It became soft in texture. Haanja is then placed on a plain surface to let it cool down.

Once the Haanja is cooled, Marcha or commonly known as Mannapuu is crushed into powder to thoroughly mix it in Haanja. For further processing, Haanja is packed in a container. Some people even place some dried red chile on the top of packed Haanja because of a belief that it wards off the evil spirit.

The container is then covered with a blanket to maintain the temperature inside. This is the most important step of the entire process.

In 3 to 4 days Haanja turns its texture into softer and juicier with a sweet fragrance emerging from within. The Haanja gone through the process is now called Pokka.

You have to add some liters of water to make it more like a drinkable liquor.

The Mixture after being left undisturbed for 6 to 7 hours turns the water into milky white with a sweet and sour taste. The milky white liquid is then stained out from Pokka which is called Thwon.

But you must filter that milky white water over 2 or 3 times before consuming it. Well, you could also taste the leftover Pokka, it is also edible. And this quality is what makes thwon an unrestricted combination of eating and drinking.

The best way to enjoy Thwon is to drink it with some Newari Cuisines. It tastes better with spicy foods.


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