You do not realize the goodness associated with certain kinds of foods (and drinks) until you are of a certain age. I say this because no matter how pretty it looked, I don’t remember enjoying a glass of kanji back then.Now that I try to debate what to eat & what not to, guiltlessly gulping down this drink with the afternoon meals is a must.My container is nearing end but I am relishing it at least once a day for now.
I am not much of a beverage person, a glass of water with a lemon wedge is my treat,even when eating out.The very fact that this fermented drink does not have a speck of sugar or other usual suspects found in beverages makes it very unique and the crisp, tart flavor is truly an acquired taste. If you are a fan of pickles & mustard, this could be a treat for you in the liquid form. I would compare it to the taste of a mellow pickling liquid but with hints of spices – all of which are all actually so so good for you.
There is the star spice- the small brown mustard seeds,commonly know as rai in India, rich in omega-3 fatty acids & magnesium. Then the essential turmeric, best known for its anti inflammatory properties. Usually many don’t use it,but I add a pinch of ajwain (carom seeds) & methi dana (fenugreek seeds), both of which help in better digestion & metabolism. Additionally, fenugreek seeds help lower the blood sugars. To top it all, the sun fermentation for about a week or so further improves the nutritional value of this drink.
Kaanji is an end of winter, spring onset drink in northern parts of India, particularly Punjab. It is usually prepared during Holi, and served as a beverage.Normally, purple/black carrots are used which are available in abundance in India during February-March spring months but if you do not get those – use any kind of carrots & put in a few slices of beets for that lovely ruby color. Many recipes add turnip slices or alma (indian gooseberries) too – just to increase the nutritional value.
Sometimes, lentil nuggets (Kaanji Vada) are dunked in this sour liquid & served as a street side snack. The fluffy nuggets absorb all that liquid and turn deliciously spongy and soft to eat. Boondi ( Crispy chickpea flour drops) are what I topped my tumbler with, however you can serve it all on its own. The fermented carrots & beets can be eaten as pickles.
- 4-5 carrots
- 1 medium beetroot
- 1.5 tbsp rai (small variety brown mustard seeds)
- 1/4 tsp each ajwain (carom seeds) & methi (fenugreek seeds) (optional)
- 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1.5 tsp kala namak (black salt, substitute with normal salt)
- 1/4 tsp red chili powder
- Salt to taste
- 6 cups water
Sterlize a wide mouthed glass container large enough to contain 6 cups water with a non-reactive lid.
Thoroughly wash & peel the carrots and beetroot. Using a sharp knife, cut them into thin slices. You could cut them in rounds or batons, dosent matter, but the slices should not be very thick.
Bring water to a boil. While the water is boiling, using mortar & pestle, coarsely crush the mustard, ajwain & methi seeds. Place the sliced beet & carrots in the container. Add the crushed spices.Sprinkle turmeric, black salt & red chili powder on top.
When the water has boiled, take off the stove and let sit on counter top to cool down a bit. Add the hot water to the container and using a wooden spoon, stir the contents thoroughly. With another clean spoon, taste and adjust the salt. At this point the contents will taste bitter but all that will go away after fermentation.
Place the lid on the container and let sit in sun for 5-7 days. Stir 2-3 times a day with clean wooden spoon.Kaanji is ready when it starts tasting sour.The fermentation time will depend on sunlight in the place you live.
You can serve Kaanji at room temperature or chilled. Add boondi or dried mint leaves as garnish.
The fermented carrots & beets can be eaten as pickles. Kaanji can be stored for up to 2 weeks, refrigerated.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by.