Food: Tangy delight

Kanji, a ready-to-serve traditional drink, can help you win a few hearts very easily. It is essentially fermented water, which is made yummy with the help of kali gajjar (purple coloured carrots) and a few spices. It is relished in Northern India. Kanji's recipe is a part of our traditional knowledge

 
By Devender Sharma
Last Updated: Monday 21 May 2018

Food: Tangy delight

Kanji, a ready-to-serve traditional drink, can help you win a few hearts very easily. It is essentially fermented water, which is made yummy with the help of kali gajjar (purple coloured carrots) and a few spices. It is relished in Northern India. Kanji's recipe is a part of our traditional knowledge. Since it is non-synthetic in nature, it can give tough competition to aerated drinks.

The drink is prepared with the help of lactic fermentation, which is carried out in the absence of air. Lactic acid bacteria increase the acidity (ph value) of the water and hence it is free of harmful, food-spoiling microorganisms.
See recipe here

Kanji is usually prepared during winters, as the fermented water can last for long during this season. It is an essential part of the Holi festivities. But a different type of kanji is prepared for the colourful celebrations -- urad dal dumplings (vadas) are added to the water instead of the carrots. This variety, called kanji vada, may not be so appealing to those who are calorie-conscious.

Both kali gajjar ki kanji and kanji vada get the gastric juices flowing, and thus are very good for digestion. Most people have the drink as an appetiser. It is also popular because of its nutritional value. It even helps in maintaining the salt levels of the body.

Those who love golgappe ka panni would certainly like the slightly sharp, tangy taste of kanji. However, unlike golgappas, the drink is not available in each and every corner of the cities and towns. But if you are a regular visitor to places like New Delhi's Chandni Chowk, which still remain deeply steeped in culture and tradition, then you can easily spot hawkers selling kanji vadas in their earthenware, that too for Rs 10 per plate.

Devinder Sharma is a New Delhi-based agriculture and food policy analyst

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