Gajar ki kanji

How to make gajar ki kanji | fermented carrot drink

My mother in law was very particular about eating food that would aid digestion. She would add heeng/asafoetida in most of her preparations. Yogurt or buttermilk was a must with meals. She would very often consume lemon pickle, or julienned ginger mixed with lemon juice. She also had a collection of mouth-watering churans (digestive powders), that we all were interested in eating, or rather licking. In winters it was, and still is a tradition to make gajar ki kanji at our home. She would tell about health benefits of this fermented carrot drink. Though she could not scientifically explain the health benefits of these traditional food items, but she was spot on about the goodness of all these tasty yet healthy foods.

Fermented food has traditionally been a part of diet of almost all cultures. The present generation has gradually moved away from healthy natural food towards high calorie, rich in carb unhealthy food. Fermented foods go through the process whereby natural bacteria feeds on starch and sugar present in the food and forms lactic acid. Nutrients present in the food are preserved and broken down into more digestible form in this process. Beneficial enzymes, vitamin B, and probiotics are formed. These aid in digestion.

In winters black carrot comes to the market in North India for about a month or two. It is used to prepare gajar ki kanji. The dark purple color of the carrot gives nice purple shade to the kanji. Antioxidant property of black carrot is four times higher than red carrot.

Black carrots

Black carrots: full of nutrients

Black carrot is peeled, washed, and cut into two-inch long batons. It is then added to boiled water, ground mustard seeds, salt and small amount of red chilli powder, and kept in sunlight or warm place to ferment naturally. In warm weather it may ferment in two days, but in cold weather, it may take around ten days to ferment. Table salt that is available in India is iodized, and is added with free flow agents. These agents and iodine inhibits fermentation. For this reason rock salt (sendha namak) or salt without iodine or free flow agents should be used in making kanji.

kali gajar ki kanji
Kanji kept in sunlight to ferment

If black carrot is not available, red carrot can also be used. In fact in my childhood we lived in different parts of India, where black carrot was not available, and my mother used to prepare kanji with red carrots, and sometimes also added other vegetables such as turnip, cauliflower, and radish. With black carrots, there is no need of adding turmeric to kanji, since carrots give beautiful color to kanji. With other vegetables, add turmeric to get bright yellow colored kanji, instead of colorless, unattractive kanji.

Once the kanji turns sour, it is ready for consumption. It is taken as side dish with meals. The liquid can be served in glasses, with few pieces of carrots thrown in. Carrots can also be served separately, and they taste like kimchi salad.

Gajar ki kanji

Delicious gajar ki kanji is ready

During festival of holi it is a tradition to serve kanji to the guests. Sometimes lentil fritters (urad dal vadas) are added to kanji liquid, and the preparation is called kanji vada. I will write about it in another post in future.

Kanji adds to the experience of eating kale chane ke kababs or khandvi that can be served as snacks during festivities. Carrots along with turnips and cauliflower can also be pickled. Check the recipe of gajar gobhi shalgam ka achar.

Recipe of Gajar ki Kanji

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Gajar ki kanji
How to make gajar ki kanji | fermented carrot drink
Print Recipe
Gajar ki kanji or fermented carrot drink is nutritious, and helps in digestion. It is low calorie drink, and generally made with black carrot, but any type of carrots, or other vegetables can also be used.
Servings Prep Time
2 litres 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5 minutes 2-10 days
Servings Prep Time
2 litres 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5 minutes 2-10 days
Gajar ki kanji
How to make gajar ki kanji | fermented carrot drink
Print Recipe
Gajar ki kanji or fermented carrot drink is nutritious, and helps in digestion. It is low calorie drink, and generally made with black carrot, but any type of carrots, or other vegetables can also be used.
Servings Prep Time
2 litres 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5 minutes 2-10 days
Servings Prep Time
2 litres 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5 minutes 2-10 days
Ingredients
Servings: litres
Instructions
  1. Take a big neutral jar such as glass jar, clean it and sterilize. You can read how we can do it here http://thefoodfunda.com/recipe/gajar-gobhi-shalgam-ka-achar/
  2. Boil water in a big pot. When the water starts boiling, switch off the gas. Add carrot batons, and spices to it. Allow this mixture to cool.
  3. Pour this kanji mixture in sanitized jar, and close the lid tightly. Keep the jar in sunlight. If ample sunlight is not there, then keep it at a warm place, and allow it to ferment.
  4. Taste a bit of kanji using clean spoon. When the kanji turns sour, it is ready for consumption. Time required for kanji to turn sour depends upon weather condition. In warm climes it turns sour in two three days, whereas in cold weather it may take up to ten days. In Delhi weather was very cold, and I had to keep kanji in microwave-in keep warm setting.
  5. Once the kanji turns sour, store it inside. It stays good at room temperature for about a weak. If kept in refrigerator, it stays good for five to six months.
Recipe Notes

Tips:

  • Like in any other food preservation, cleanliness is of utmost importance in order to avoid fungus formation.
  • Any type of salt such as common salt, rock salt, or kosher salt can be used. Iodized salt with added free flow agents may inhibit fermentation process, and should be avoided.
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About the author

Vandana Mathur

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8 Comments

    • Yes, do try. It is very easy to make. It is an acquired taste. In our home it vanishes in two three days. Then I have to make a fresh batch.

    • It is popular in North India, and is very often served during Holi festivities. It is acquired taste like kimchi. But if you like it, it will be irresistible.

  • Thanks for the recipe, Vandana! I loved Kanji when I was a kid and now I want to try making it myself. Where I live, there is no way I can get black carrots so I will use the orange ones that are available. Do you think it would be a good idea to add red beets to get the color and the flavor? I am also getting inspired to make pickles using your recipes.
    Thank you!

    • Yes Snehil kanji is delicious as well as healthy. You can add beetroot if you want reddish shade in the kanji, though it doesn’t add to the taste. Orange carrot kanji is equally delicious. Thanks for stopping by.

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