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Girimallika Saikia
Date of Publish: 2016-03-01

Po:ro Apong or Sai- mod is the exceptionally tasteful traditional alcoholic beverage, prepared by the Mising community of North-East India, drinking it as their best beer from the time immemorial. It is wrong to specify homemade beverage of Mising community-Apong as beer only. In course of time it becomes indispensible drink for their religious, social and cultural life and occasion like Midang (traditional marriage);Ali a:ye li'gang (harvesting festival); Dodgang (funeral ceremony); Dobur festival; Na Bhat etc.

Although it is said to be not injurious to health for its natural preparation, scientific analysis and test summarily cannot be denied to ascertain such claim. Many people have immense desire to drink Po:ro Apong for its non-artificial preparation and unique delicacy. Moreover, it not easily available which also makes it more precious.

There is a long process of preparation of Po:ro Apong. I was fortunate to participate in Sai Mod preparation in a remote village of Golaghat  district in Assam recently which became more intoxicating for me than Apong itself. Agriculture dependent Mising community prepare this Sai Mod using natural products. The main ingredients for preparation of Po:ro Apongs are E'pop(round shaped cake),paddy straw and husk, and rice.

Based on my little experience I would like to divide the whole preparation procedure of Po:ro Apong into five steps.

Step 1-                                                                                   

E'pop- It is prepared from mixture of rice flour and plant ingredients. Almost fifty varieties of medicated tree leaves, creepers or grass etc. required for preparation of perfect E'pob. For deforestation many green ingredients become rare and non- available. Therefore, nowadays E'pob are prepared only by using twenty or twenty-five varieties. For example medicinal plant or herb like Oldentandia dillusa, Centelld rotudifolia, Drymariea cordata etc. and leaves of sugarcane, jackfruit tree etc.(orally colected). Rice grain is the major component of E'pob along with leaves of many plant species.

First of all green ingrediants are made dried and pounded into fine powder. Rice grains are mixed with the leaf powder and then set this mixture into small round ball or flat cakes. The E'pob are dried and stored in kili'ng(earthen pot) for future use. Finest production of Sai mod depend on the preparation of perfect quality E'pob.        

                                          
Step2-                                                                  

Preparation of ash:-For preparation ash paddy husk and straw are burnt together.After that the ash produced from the burning kept on kopak Anne(Banana leaf) or a Dhari(Bamboo woven carpet).Skill of preparation ash by Missing women is very marvellous and delighted to participate in it.     

                                                  
Step3-                                                                    
Cooking Rice:-Any one variety of rice is cooked on a kerahi (an iron pan). Someone add small amount of Bora Saul (a kind of sticky rice) to make it more delicious.


Step4-
Mixture of ingredients:-All the ingredients mentioned above are kept on a kopak Anne or dhari (Bamboo woven carpet). Adequate quantity of E'pob powder is added and properly mixed.This mixture kept carefully in a kili'ng(earthen pot)or small Pe'tum(Bamboo container).The inner part of the Pe'tum is covered by leaves of Ta'ling(leaf of palm tree).After filling the kiIli'ng or Pe'tum the mouth of the containers are tightly closed with dry straw and leaves of Rukij.In this way all ingredients mixture are kept for fermentation  almost for 15days.

Step5-
Ta:suk:-The fifth and final phase of preparation.They made a Ta:suk(a cone shaped bamboo basket).It is hung from a post and inner inner side is covered with kopak Anne( banana leaves ) And Amrong(Paddy straw)are placed lower part of the Ta:suk that worked as a sieving.The fermented rice grain,ash etc that kept for 15 days are poured on the Ta:suk as per requirement. Water is poured from above by glass or mug on it.After filtration of the water passes through Ta:suk (filling with ingredients) to the container kept below for collection.Remaining sediments in the Ta:suk called Po:ro tonrug becomes fatty fooder for pigs,very common domestic animal of their community.
The reddish -black water passes from the fermented rice grains through the Ta:suk is called Po:ro Apong which can be called the superior quality home-brewed beverage of North-east India.. After day long hard labour  they forget everything sipping the taste of Po:ro Apong    The hospitable Missing people offer it as a sacred offering to the guests as holy beverage in their social ,cultural and religious occasions  that   symbolizes their pristine affection for each other.

Photo and text - Girimallika Saikia

( Girimallika Saikia teaches in a High School in Golaghat district of Assam. A nature lover, Saikia also loves to spend time with children. She has special interest in photography.  She can be reached at girimalikasaikia@gmail.com)

 

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