Just as much we love bringing you stories, the passion behind them inspires us to keep searching for more of these tales. One such tale is of Priyanka Save who looked at the abundant growth of the fruit Chikoo in Dahanu and how easily it perished. Most of it not consumed and thus being wasted. She did the only thing which seemed fit to her. Crush them. To make cider.
Experiencing Chikoo Cider
We spent a weekend at the Hill Zill Resort located 25 kilometers from Dahanu and experienced something unique. A winery, the first of its kind in the world to make a Chikoo cider. We were given a detailed tour before actually tasting the cider variants made here. The wine maker Vikas is a pro at conducting these tours in Hindi and Marathi, explaining the entire process to the enthusiasts. The chikoo is sourced straight from the farmers thus benefiting the community and are ripened at the winery itself. Why isn’t ripened chikoo used in the first place? Well, it perishes quickly and might not give the same quality and taste. The next process is crushing of the fruits which goes through two stages so as to not crush in the seeds. The fermentation process does not require sugar as in case of grape wine as the chikoo juice it itself sufficient to make the alcohol.
Finally when the process is completed, the alcoholic beverage is carbonised and packaged in beer bottles. The brand name is Fruzzante and can be found in wine shops in Mumbai, Pune and select places in Maharashtra. Besides not having any added sugar, these ciders are vegan and gluten-free. After the success of the Original Chikoo Cider, the brand has also begun the manufacturing and sale of other cider variants like Star Fruit (Jiwa), Pineapple, Mango and Spice Garden (Cinnamon, Ginger and Honey with Chikoo). This initiative by Priyanka and her husband Nagesh Pai also serves the community as the proceeds from the Jiwa variant goes to the Warli tribe.
Hill Zill Resort
Our weekend at the Hill Zill Resort at Bordi was simply amazing. One must come down here to not just take the winery tour but to have a look at the beauty and culture or the place. Needless to say, one can also spend a rejuvenating and relaxed time away from work here. Coming down on a Saturday is a plus for that’s when the resort showcases the talent of the natives. The Tarpa dance is performed where dancers wear their traditional garb, hold hands and keep changing their feet movement in an enchanting manner. The movement is controlled by the Tarpa player, Tarpa being a wind instrument made with locally available bamboo and gourd. The dance is beautiful and is best experienced at this gorgeous resort.
We thoroughly enjoyed the coastal food served within the resort especially the chicken dishes and seafood. There’s a lovely pool, garden space to play badminton and of course the winery in the neighbourhood for a tour. One can also explore the chikoo and mango farms as well as the beaches during a high tide. On Sundays the talented Warli tribe comes to the resort in the mornings to showcase and sell their paintings which you can take back as memoirs and souvenirs. It’s amazing how we can make wonderful things if we just connect to our community and grow with them. Priyanka Save and Nagesh Pai have done just that and we hope they continue down this road.