16 December, 2015

Gajar ki Kaanji (Fermented drink with carrots and mustard)




In the north (of India) the onset of winter heralds the coming of many different types of produce.

One such among them, is kala gajar, or black carrots, which are typically used to make this exotic-coloured and delicious drink which has a unique taste. The dark purplish shade of the black carrots lend a characteristic taste and gorgeous colour to this healthful drink, while the phytonutrients in the dark pigment of this interesting vegetable also provide powerful anti-oxidants.





If you've never had it before, do give it a couple of tries, it is certainly a flavour that grows on you.

And the benefits of having a pro-biotic rich drink like this are many.

Besides the obvious one of contributing to a healthy gut flora, it is also a cooling drink and a digestive aid.



If you like sauerkraut or kimchi, chances are you will like this. The carrots can be eaten as a relish, either along with the drink, or on the side with meals, or used as a condiment.



In Bangalore, black carrots are still not available as far as I know (in fact at the moment they've not yet started to come in in Delhi, either - still a couple of weeks away)

But that should not deter one from making this delicious drink which is rich in vitamins and probiotics.

Regular red or orange carrots can be used instead, in which case, the addition of a beetroot will vastly increase the colour-appeal of the kaanji.

Sometimes, soaked and squeezed-out black gram fritters (Urad dal vadas) are added to this drink a few hours, or overnight before serving, in which case, it is known as Kaanji Vada.

Ingredients:


1. Carrots: 3, medium sized. Black, if possible. If not, then red or orange variety.
2. Beetroot: 1, small. Optional. Lends a nice colour to the drink, especially recommended in case the
carrots are not the black ones.
3. Pink or Himalayan Salt (Sendha Namak): 1 1/2 Tablespoons. Avoid iodised salt. (More on this here.)
(Or, use 1 Tablespoon black salt + 1/2 Tablespoon pink salt)
4. Mustard powder: 2 Tablespoons
5. Red Chilly powder: 2 teaspoons
6.Water: 2 Litres

Method:




1. Wash, peel and cut the carrots and beetroots into batons. (I had already chopped the last of my stock of carrots and beetroots into cubes for another dish, and had to "steal" some for the kaanji; that's why there are some cubes, too.)


2. Place in a clean (preferably sterilized) glass or ceramic jar, (or martaban, or even a clean, earthen pot).


3. Add all the powders with the carrots (and beetroot pieces, if using).


4. Mix the powders well together with the vegetable pieces.


5. Pour the water onto the powder-coated pieces.


6.Stir the contents of the jar once to mix.


7. Cover the opening of the jar with a clean muslin cloth, and tie it around the rim.


8. Let it stand in the sun for three to four days, stirring once each day. Test for done-ness by tasting a spoonful, - it will have a pleasant sour taste when properly fermented (and the carrot pieces with be sligtly softened, though still crunchy.) 

Note: Keep checking from day two onwards, on very sunny days or in hotter regions, it might get ready in as little as two days, as mine did.

9. Once it starts to taste sour, it is ready. Strain, and store in the refrigerator. Save the vegetable pieces, they are tasty and provide many of the same health benefits as the drink.


10. Serve chilled. The pieces can be eaten along with the drink (a spoon is handy to pick them out!),
or they can be served on the side as a pickled relish to go with a snack or a meal.


11. Gajar ki Kaanji does not have a very long shelf life. Refrigeration will slow down the fermentation process, but after about 7 to 10 days, the taste will no longer be appealing. So consume within that time.



Don't forget to enjoy the winter sun, along with it!





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