The Garos are indigenous people in Meghalaya, India. One of the traditional products made and used by this tribe is Garo yeast, locally known as Wanchi.
In the past, yeast was given to Garo ancestors as a gift. It was believed that provider of gods during the garo harvest festival known as Wangala or other festivals would be able to enjoy good time. They would be provided with power and courage during discussions as well as during chanting.
The first step of yeast preparation is harvesting fern leaves. They can be found close to the river in places where there are plenty of trees. Gathered fern leaves are dried and mixed with dried chili. On such prepared mixture, the rice beer is poured over. It is put into a bamboo basket covered with fern leaves and put over the fire. When is dried, it is grinded by a traditional pestle and mortar.
The Garos yeast is made mostly by women and can be prepared just in January and February. Its smell resembles the fern leaves, Garos yeast is used in making rice beer. Its addition to rice beer provides an unique aroma. In addition, it is used to ferment the rice.