Unlock Gut Health with Kanji: An Indian Probiotic Drink Guide

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Imagine sipping on a vibrant, tangy beverage that not only tantalizes your taste buds but also boosts your gut health. Meet Kanji, an Indian probiotic drink that’s as delightful as it is beneficial. Originating from the northern regions of India, this traditional beverage is a staple during the spring festival of Holi, but its roots stretch far beyond mere celebration.

Kanji is made from fermenting vegetables like carrots and beetroots, giving it a striking purple hue and a unique, sour flavor that’s both refreshing and invigorating. It’s not just a drink; it’s a centuries-old wellness practice packed into a glass. Whether you’re a probiotic enthusiast or just looking for a new culinary adventure, Kanji promises a flavorful journey into the heart of Indian fermentation traditions.

Ingredients

Gather the following simple ingredients to create your own batch of Kanji, a traditional Indian probiotic drink known for its vibrant flavor and health benefits.

Main Ingredients

  • 2 medium beetroots, peeled and sliced into thin strips
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced into thin strips
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons mustard powder

Required Tools and Equipment

To prepare Kanji, an exquisite Indian probiotic drink, you will need a few essential tools and pieces of equipment that will aid in the fermentation process and ensure the best results. Here’s what you should have ready in your kitchen before you begin:

  • Large Glass Jar or Ceramic Vessel: Choose a container that can hold up to 1 gallon of liquid. Glass or ceramic are preferred over metal or plastic as they do not react with the acidic components of the drink.
  • Cutting Board and Sharp Knife: You’ll need these to prepare the vegetables (carrots and beetroots) by chopping them into batons or slices.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: These are crucial for measuring the correct amounts of water, salt, mustard seeds, red chili powder, and mustard powder to ensure the flavor is perfectly balanced.
  • Mixing Spoon: Needed for mixing the ingredients thoroughly before sealing them for fermentation.
  • Cheesecloth or Clean Muslin Cloth: This will cover the opening of the jar, allowing the mixture to breathe while keeping out dust and insects.
  • Rubber Band or String: To secure the cloth over the jar securely.
  • Strainer: Useful for removing the solid pieces from the drink once fermentation is complete, making it ready to serve.

Gathering these tools and equipment before you start will streamline your cooking process, making it easier to focus on the creation of this healthful and tangy drink. Keep everything clean and handy to enjoy the art of making Kanji, combining tradition with the pleasure of homemade fermentation.

Preparation Steps

Now that you have all your tools and equipment ready, it’s time to dive into the actual preparation of Kanji. These steps will guide you through cleaning, chopping, and setting up the fermentation process.

Cleaning and Chopping

  1. Wash the Vegetables: Begin by thoroughly washing the carrots and beetroots under cold running water. Make sure to scrub away any dirt or residue that might be on the skin.
  2. Peel the Carrots and Beetroots: Using a vegetable peeler, gently peel the outer skin of both the carrots and beetroots. This helps in removing any remaining dirt and ensures a cleaner fermentation process.
  3. Chop the Vegetables: Cut the carrots and beetroots into long, thin slices. These thin slices increase the surface area, allowing the fermentation process to occur more uniformly and quickly.
  4. Measure the Mustard Seeds: While your vegetables are drying, measure about two tablespoons of mustard seeds. You will later grind these to release more flavor during fermentation.

Preparing the Ingredients

  1. Grind the Mustard Seeds: Using a mortar and pestle or a small grinder, coarsely grind the mustard seeds. The ground mustard seeds will act as a catalyst in speeding up fermentation and enhancing the flavor.
  2. Mix Spices and Vegetables: In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped vegetables, ground mustard seeds, two tablespoons of mustard powder, and two tablespoons of red chili powder. Toss them together to ensure the vegetables are well coated with the spices.
  3. Prepare the Saltwater Solution: In a separate container, dissolve about four tablespoons of salt in one liter of water. This saltwater is crucial as it creates an environment conducive to fermentation while inhibiting harmful bacteria.
  4. Pack the Jar: Transfer the spiced vegetables into a clean glass jar. Pour the saltwater solution over the vegetables until they are completely submerged. Ensure there is at least a two-inch space left at the top of the jar to allow for the expansion that will occur during fermentation.
  5. Seal and Store: Close the jar with a tight-fitting lid or a fermentation lock. Place the jar in a warm, dark place for about 4 to 5 days. The ideal temperature for fermentation should be around 70°F (21°C).

During this time, the saltwater will begin to pull out the natural juices from the vegetables, aiding in the fermentation process. The mustard seeds and chili powder will not only add flavor but also promote good bacteria growth. Check the jar daily to ensure that the vegetables are still submerged in the brine and to release any gases that build up to prevent excess pressure.

Directions

Now that you have everything prepared, let’s dive into the next steps to bring your Kanji to life.

Mixing Ingredients

  1. Start by placing your chopped vegetables—carrots and beetroots—into the clean, large glass jar.
  2. Add the ground mustard seeds to the jar. These seeds are the key ingredient that not only adds a sharp flavor but also aids in the fermentation process.
  3. Sprinkle the black salt and red chili powder over the vegetables, ensuring a uniform distribution. These spices will infuse your Kan with a delightful zest and rich color.
  4. Gently pour the saltwater solution into the jar, covering the vegetables completely. Make sure the water level is at least an inch above the vegetables to allow room for the vegetables to expand.
  5. With a clean mixing spoon, stir the mixture thoroughly to ensure that the spices and salt are evenly mixed throughout the water.

Fermenting and Storing Kanji

  1. Seal the jar tightly with its lid. This is crucial to avoid any contaminants while still allowing the gases produced during fermentation to escape.
  2. Place the sealed jar in a warm, dark place. A kitchen cupboard or a pantry works well for this purpose.
  3. Check on your Kanji daily. Open the jar to stir the contents gently, ensuring the vegetables stay submerged under the brine. This not only prevents mold growth but also encourages an even fermentation.
  4. Around the third or fourth day, begin tasting the Kanji. Look for a noticeable tangy flavor development. Once it reaches your preferred level of sourness, your Kanji is ready to be consumed.
    5.or longer storage, you can keep the fermented Kanji in your refrigerator. This slows the fermentation process, allowing the flavors to meld further while preserving the probiotic qualities.

Following these steps, your Kanji will be ready to drink, offering not just a savory treat but also a boost to your gut health.

Serving Suggestions

After your Kanji has achieved its desired level of fermentation and is safely stored in the refrigerator, you are ready to serve it. Here’s how to enhance its flavor and adapt it to suit your taste or that of your guests.

Adjustments and Add-ins

Kanji is wonderfully versatile, allowing for numerous adjustments or add-ins to tailor it to different palates and occasions:

  • Adjusting Sourness: If you find the sour taste of Kanji too strong, you can dilute it with a bit of cold water. Conversely, if it’s not sour enough for your taste, allow it to ferment for a few more days.
  • Sweetness: For a touch of sweetness, stir in a small amount of honey or sugar. This can balance the sourness and add a new dimension to the beverage’s flavor profile.
  • Spice It Up: Some like it hot! Add a bit of ground black pepper or a pinch of red chili powder to your Kanji for an extra kick.
  • Herbal Infusions: To introduce a fresh flavor, consider adding a few mint leaves, a sprig of coriander, or even a bit of dill to your glass before serving.
  • Garnishing: Enhance the visual appeal of Kanji by garnishing it with thin slices of raw beetroot or carrot. This not only adds beauty but also a hint of crisp texture.

Experiment with these additions to discover your personal favorite version of this healthful Indian probiotic drink.

Make-Ahead Instructions

Kanji is wonderfully adaptive for make-ahead preparations, allowing you to enjoy its health benefits throughout the week. To ensure your Kanji is both delicious and effective as a probiotic, follow these make-ahead instructions:

  1. Prepare in Bulk: Make a larger batch of Kanji by scaling up the recipe. Use a proportionate size of glass jars for fermentation. Remember, the larger the batch, the more critical the ratio of ingredients to maintain the balance of flavors.
  2. Extended Fermentation: For a deeper flavor and increased probiotic activity, let the Kanji ferment for 3-4 days extra beyond the initial recommend period. Taste daily to decide when it’s reached your preferred level of sourness.
  3. Storage: Once you achieve the desired sourness, strain out the vegetables and transfer the liquid Kanji into clean bottles. Seal tightly and store in the refrigerator. Chilled Kanji can last up to three weeks.
  4. Quick Serve Option: For a rapid serving option, prepare single-serve bottles during your initial bottling. Grab a bottle as needed, shaking well before drinking, to enjoy a revitalizing and healthful beverage without daily preparation.

These steps ensure your Kanji is ready when you are, preserving freshness and maximizing the probiotic benefits. Enjoy your Kanji chilled for a refreshing twist or at room temperature to savor its traditional essence.

Storage Tips

Proper storage of Kanji is crucial to maintain its freshness and probiotic properties. After fermenting your Kanji to the desired level of sourness, follow these tips to ensure it stays delicious and beneficial for your gut health.

Refrigeration

Once Kanji achieves the sourness you prefer, it’s essential to refrigerate it to halt further fermentation and preserve its current state. Transfer the Kanji into a clean, airtight container. Make sure to use glass or non-reactive plastic to avoid any unwanted chemical interactions that could alter the flavor or health benefits.

  • Cool it down: Refrigerate the Kanji immediately after it reaches your desired taste.
  • Airtight storage: Seal the container tightly to keep out unwanted air and contaminants.
  • Duration: Properly stored, Kanji can last in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Serving from Storage

When serving Kanji from storage, always use a clean spoon to avoid introducing bacteria into the jar, which could compromise the remaining portion. If you notice any off smells, colors, or mold, discard the Kanji as it may no longer be safe to consume.

  • Stir before serving: The contents may settle or separate in the fridge. Gently mix the Kanji before pouring it into serving glasses.
  • Check before use: Give your Kanji a quick check for any signs of spoilage each time before serving.

Long-Term Storage Options

If you have prepared a large batch of Kanji and wish to keep it for an extended period, consider freezing it. Freezing can extend the shelf life of Kanji while preserving most of its taste and probiotic qualities. Use freezer-safe containers and leave some space at the top as the liquid will expand when frozen.

  • Prepare for freezing: Cool the Kanji in the refrigerator before transferring it to the freezer.
  • Thaw safely: When ready to consume, thaw the Kanji in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Following these storage tips, you ensure that your Kanji remains a refreshing and healthful addition to your diet, ready to be enjoyed at your convenience.

Conclusion

Embracing the art of making Kanji not only connects you with traditional Indian culinary practices but also boosts your gut health with every tangy sip. Whether you’re storing it for weeks or enjoying a freshly made batch the personal touches you add make each glass uniquely yours. So go ahead experiment with flavors and enjoy the rich vibrant taste of Kanji your way!

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