Thursday 23 December 2010

The Mystery Object identified

Some of you tried (unsuccessfully!) to identify the mystery object pictured in my post of 20th December. Thanks for having a go. I feel that the time has now come to reveal its true identity.

It is used for DRINKING millet beer

It comes from NEPAL

It is called a TONGBA

Actually, the alcoholic drink made from fermented millet, correctly known as "Jaand", has itself come to be called "Tongba", and I don't think I ever heard anyone use the word "Jaand". This is a bit like the way in which British people refer to beer as "a pint", after the vessel in which the beer is drunk.

The way it is used is basically this: a lump of fermented millet "mash" is placed in the wooden container and hot water is added. The lid is replaced and the assembly is left to stand for a few minutes. After this the liquid is sucked up through a hollow bamboo "straw" about 30cm long, inserted through a hole in the lid. You can see the bamboo straw in my picture. You can keep adding more hot water until all the alcohol (and taste) has been exhausted.

If you are interested in the whole business of making and consuming Tongba, a good place to start is Wikipedia. Here's the link Wikipedia - Tongba

The Tongba in my pictures is one that I bought many years ago when I was touring ("trekking") in Eastern Nepal, paying out pensions to retired Gurkha servicemen from the British Army. I tried drinking Tongba, and my opinion is that it is entirely appropriate in the hills of Nepal - very warming and relaxing after a hard day walking up and down mountains - but probably not something that would be hugely popular in Britain!

As you probably gathered, my Tongba is these days purely ornamental, though it was in active use the day I bought it.


  1. I never would have guessed that! You have to work for that drink!

  2. I don't know if everyone in the UK is doing this, but in Australia it is the epitome of chic (as chic as we can manage to get over here) to walk around with a takeaway coffee in hand.

    Can you imagine my skyrocketing credentials if I walked around sipping from my Tongba!

  3. I would never of known what it was for.
    fun trying to work it out.
    Happy New yr x

  4. Jaand is the Nepali word while Tongba is Tibetan. The thing is same ;-) Nice pic. Found it while searching for an image of tongba. Thanks


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