Tongba – A millet alcoholic beverage of Sikkim

Tongba is a millet-based alcoholic beverage found in Sikkim and the far eastern mountainous region of  Nepal and the neighbouring Darjeeling region.


  • The word “Tongba” is actually referred to the vessel which holds the fermented alcoholic beverage known as Jaand. Jaand is prepared by cooking and fermenting whole grain millet. The cooked millet is cooled and mixed with Murcha (which is a source of molds, bacteria and yeast). Then the mass is collected and placed in a woven bamboo basket lined with green leaves or plastic, covered with thick fold of cloth and allowed to remain in a warm place for 1–2 days depending upon the temperature.
  • The sweet mass is then packed tightly into an earthenware pot or plastic jars and the opening is usually sealed off to prevent air from entering.
  • Traditionally, it is stored for about six months. It is consumed in a unique way; the fermented millet is put into a container, called a Tongba, and boiled water is poured in it to the brim. It is then left undisturbed for about five minutes before it is ready to drink; a fine bamboo straw with a blind end, but perforated on the side to act as a filter, is inserted into the container to suck out the warm water and alcohol from the millet grains. More hot water is added as the Tongba becomes dry, and the process is repeated until the alcohol is exhausted.
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