So some nights it’s really cold outside and you need a liquid to warm your bones. That’s when the East Indian kimad makes a warm entrance into the hearth and home.
Quite similar to mulled wine or brandy, the traditional East Indian kimad is a mix that keeps you warm on those cold winter nights. You’ll find a lot of it in every home come Christmas time or wedding season. This warm drink made with country liquor has spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and cardamoms in it; and more importantly a little bit of sugar and sometimes tea.
It tastes just like floating on warm clouds in heaven or some say like fire in your bones. Of course, that depends on who made the kimad and which base liquor they used in it. It’s normally made of country liquor from the tadgolla or jambul or sugarcane or coconut trees or others, but you can just replace it with brandy if you don’t have any.
What is Kimad? What makes a good kimad?
I had a question about country liquors, so I went to one of our walking talking dictionaries in our family; my Uncle Jude. This is what he had to say.
Individual families distilled their own spirits. Chewing tobacco & drinking toddy were most common vices.
Of the three major vices, wine & song were permitted on most festive occasions. The 3rd vice was practised in secret by juveniles & young adults and some ‘chalu’ older adults.
It was imperative to be discreet if indulging in levels above social boundaries. If caught, it meant physical abuse by a parent or jealous spouse!!!
Retaliatory abuse against social norms by guardians was not carried out in private forums. You could get slapped or slippered in full view of family, friends or neighbours.
There was no age barrier to receive corporal punishment by guardianship, nor segregation by concerned parties. The ideal modus operandi would be to flee the scene of discovery & return home much later to face the music in private audition with authority, rather than protest innocence within a circle of bystanders. What happened in circumstances like that was, if there were several aunties & uncles in the curious circle of bystanders, you might collect some slapping from a whole lot of judicial protesters.
EI communities were not as well developed in ethical reasoning as they are now. It was black & white in those developing times. If a married man was spied talking to a voluptuous miss at a secluded spot, the inference expressed in black & white was quite colourful!!!
Definitely not a case of innocent until proven guilty! This applied to both parties of the comprising situation.
To come back to the brewing skills of communal beverages, some families attained various levels of competency over others. Just as it was common to note that Aunty Nancy’s tongue Tambriad was the best in the village, & Dominick’s wife Mabel made really tasty mutton stew, it was also noteworthy to recognise that Phyllis Aunty’s Jambul stuff was funtastic & to die for! Literally.
To score an invite to one of Phyllis Aunty’s soirees like a christening or funeral wake was a social bonanza, more rewarding than even Christmas and Easter. You knew in advance what you were going to be served, just as these days, if you went to Adle’s house you knew you’d be getting the best scotch whiskey in the world!
Secret recipes for home-brewed beverages were a closely guarded secret. Mostly accidental, the winning concoctions might have simply have been the result of throwing some additional ingredients into the fermentation process, or the seepage from the septic tank, but in any case, the exact combinations were never shared.
The largest tree in front of a house always indicated the flavour of the served hospitality. For instance, if there was a Jambul tree at the frontage, it was a dead cert that the lifeblood that flowed within the patriarch’s veins was a deep purple, and the reason for that, was not because the teenage son had an affinity for music of the same name!
Written by the versatile Jude Fernandes who also wrote this Sorpotel Pav recipe.
And now back to the East Indian kimad. Some like it hot, some like it cold. Some like it strong, some like it, well ‘er, no one likes it weak. So let’s just say some like it bold.
Yay! That rhymes.
It’s also a must-have at every East Indian umracha paani – the traditional celebration that’s similar to a stag or spinster party. And it’s doled out a lot along with the papri made of rice.
So if you are ever in Bombay, and you happen to stumble across an East Indian, get yourself invited over to their home for a drink of kimad and some lush tasting sorpotel or moilee with chitaps for dinner. Nope, you won’t find it in the stores!
Here’s the recipe for our version of the East Indian kimad, give or take a few ml.
Preparation of the traditional East Indian Kimad
Heat water with cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. Average it out. For 2 cups of water, 4 elaichis or cardamom, 10 cloves and 2 sticks of cinnamon.
Once it starts boiling, add a teaspoon of tea and 4 tablespoons of sugar. Of course, the liquor tastes great without the tea too. We often skip it. It just depends on whether you want to go traditional or not.
Lower the flame, add in the country liquor or brandy and let it heat, but do not let it boil. For two cups of water, you can use anywhere from 150 ml to 300 ml of brandy depending on your tastebuds.
The amount you add depends on whether you want to serve the drink in the small kimad glasses or in larger glasses. For the small East Indian kimad glasses called chownis, we usually add about 300 ml. If serving in larger glasses, add lesser alcohol, say about 150 to 200 ml.
Strain and serve in chownis (chauvenees or traditional East Indian wine glasses.) Chownis are traditionally made of two sizes, 30 ml and 45 ml. We’ve got some that are way older than us, and use either size depending on the company and visitors. And then like every good East Indian say “Sukhala!” “To health!” “Cheers!” “To happiness”!
You can print off the list of ingredients and instructions to follow for making this recipe via the recipe card below (for home use only).
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How to make East Indian Kimad Drink
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- Add the water, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon to a pot and boil.
- Once the water starts boiling, add the tea and sugar. (You can skip the tea. We skip it often.)
- Add in the brandy or country liquour and let it heat, but don't let it boil. (The amount you add depends on whether you want to serve the drink in the small kimad glasses or in larger glasses. For the small kimad glasses called chownis, we usually add about 300 ml. If serving in larger glasses, add lesser alcohol, say about 150 to 200 ml.)
- Pour into chownis and serve! (Chownis are similar to shot glassses.)