Recently, I was feeling a little under the weather. Change of season I was told. But a colleague advised, “just drink a glass of Kanji and you’ll be up and kicking in no time! My mum and grandmum would force me to drink it as a child during winters, but it worked wonders!” I was embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know what Kanji was, but I was intrigued. I did some research and asked some friends, and it turns out there are millions of Indians in north India who swear by this potent potion.
What is Kanji?
LF chef Pankaj Bhadouria explains, “It’s a probiotic drink made from fermenting winter vegetables like black carrots and beetroot, in water, in a mason jar by placing the jars on a windowsill or a warm place for a week to ten days. The carrots provide a nice colour to the drink, and is enhanced by beetroot, which also adds flavour. It’s a slow fermentation process so the end result is not too sour. Mustard powder, asafoetida, red chilli powder, and salt are added to the pickling solution for taste.” Traditionally, Kanji was prepared in non-reactive jars (glass or ceramic) and covered with a thin muslin cloth, aiding the fermentation process.
Kanji is traditionally made of carrots, and “carrots have the highest beta-carotene content, making it a rich source of antioxidant,” explains Ritika Samaddar, Regional Head- Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Max Healthcare, Delhi. “And since carrots are a natural source of antioxidants, it doesn’t lead to toxicity. Instead, it flushes out toxins from our body. It is these toxins and free radicals that circulate in our body and cause inflammatory diseases like cancer,” adds Samaddar.
Kanji is also a good source of fibre and rich in vitamins; and since it is fermented, it maintains your gut flora and facilitates smooth bowel movements. The addition of beetroot makes the drink even healthier as it lowers blood pressure and increases blood flow. “This healthy beverage is low on calorie, tasty and perfect for those who are on a weight-loss diet,” concludes the Delhi-based nutritionist.
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