One of the most popular traditional drinks in India during the festival of Holi, the festival of colors, is kanji, a 'ancient fermented drink that modern scientific research has proved to be one of best probiotics.
This drink originally from Punjab, in the northwest of India on the border with Pakistan, is drunk almost everywhere today, like many other fermented foods and drinks typical of India, pickle first and foremost.
It is a slightly carbonated drink, due to fermentation, very aromatic and strongly digestive.
The ingredients vary in quantity and depending on seasonal or local availability.
If and when available, the first ingredient is represented by black carrots, partly supplemented (or sometimes replaced) by the beets. Both of these ingredients are primarily responsible for the dark purplish-red color, index of presence of anthocyanins and flavonoids.
To these vegetables are added black mustard seeds, salt and water. Traditionally all these ingredients are put together in a jar and kept for a week in a corner of the house exposed to the sun, then to natural heat.
After about a week (a little bit more in case the temperatures are not high enough) the kanji will be bitter and sparkling, ready to be consumed.
At that point it filters, setting aside black carrots and beets for other fermentation processes, such as pickles.
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> 1 tablespoon of black mustard seeds
> 4-5 black carrots;
> 1 beet;
> 1 tablespoon of salt;
> enough water to cover all the material (minimum 6 cups).
> Pound in a mortar mustard seeds;
> cut for a long time carrots and beets;
> fill with water and cover with a cloth;
> store in a corner exposed to the sunand for a week;
> mix with a spoonful of woodo once a day;
> when the taste becomes pungent it means that the kanji is ready;
> filter, bottle, refrigerate to preserve and consume it fresh.
Spicy lovers put half a teaspoon of hot pepper in the finished product.
The benefits of fermentation
The fermentation process that the kanji shares with the kamboucha is based on the action of what in English is called by the acronym SCOBY, that is Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast, ie Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast.
These colonies of yeasts and bacteria are strongly probiotic, have a strong impact on the health of the intestine (thanks to the predigested fiber of the vegetables) and on the well-being of the intestinal bacterial flora, with an important positive feedback on the immune system.
Plus the kanji is an excellent strong liquid of easily absorbed carbohydrates, for this reason it is customary to drink a glass of kanji in the morning.
Kanji is excellent against dehydration, the spicy and acidic taste reduces sweating and therefore the loss of liquids, bringing it on the other hand in large quantities.
The kanji is also recognized as a good home support for antiviral therapies: the consumption of kanji and therefore the improvement of the performance of the immune system help in the prevention of many types of viral diseases.
Ideal in cases of diarrhea because, as mentioned, it fights dehydration, one of the effects of diarrhea. It helps the intestine, cleans it and supports the proliferation of a healthy and strong bacterial flora.
Flavor and sugar content
As mentioned, the taste is strange, sour, somehow pungent or even slightly spicy: it is one of those flavors that you have to learn to make the mouth to, since we are too used to sugary, sweetened drinks, since even those fermented very often contain some sugar, like most of the versions of komboucha e kefir.
The sugars needed to feed the bacteria are already in the vegetables: carrots and especially beets are rich in sugar.
I Furthermore, bacteria responsible for fermentation are found on the peel of vegetables, and therefore the ideal would be not to peel them but only to clean them well.
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