There will forever be some flavors that you associate with seasons and start to crave them right about that time of the year. Come Spring, Kanji is one such tangy and pungent drink that has my mouth watering just with anticipation. It’s certainly an acquired taste but if you enjoy tangy and spicy flavors – you must give this a try.
Kanji is a fermented drink made using purple carrots. Purple CARROTS? The ticker running through your head reads: ‘you have got to be kidding me!’… but seriously ! I’m not!
Purple carrots are the real thing, love! The originals (pun intended), the mighty ancestors from which red, orange and yellow carrots were cultivated. Loaded with the most beta carotene and powerful antioxidants like Anthocyanin, purple carrots are an age-old super food and are even more potent as a fermented probiotic drink.
To begin with sterilize the jar and any utensils that will be coming in contact with the carrots, water or spices. This ensures that there is the least chance of bacteria spoiling our drink. Don’t be discouraged by this. There is plenty of salt in the drink to keep bad bacteria at bay but it helps to be careful. I used a Milton sterilizing tablet instead of using hot water baths like we do for mason jars.
Wash and scrub the carrots and peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler. You can cut them in circles but I prefer them as sticks; just like I had them as a child. A word of warning…..they are a gorgeous purple but that doesn’t look very flattering on the hands and cuticles. So I strongly suggest that you wear disposable or kitchen gloves while handling the carrots to avoid staining.
Soak them in water and rinse again.
Drain all the water. I prefer to use a basin and no colander, least amount of utensils used for least chance of bacteria.
Use a mortar and a pestle to crush the mustard seeds slightly.
Measure out the salt and add that to the water.
Pour the brine into the fermenting jar. Using 1.5 liters of water and 4 tablespoons of salt makes a strong brine that creates an unfavorable environment for bad bacteria (ie : mold) giving the carrots time to ferment in the brine. Once ready, the remaining 1/2 liter of water can be topped up.
Add the carrot sticks to the brine. Initially the carrot sticks will float but as they ferment they will slowly sink to the bottom.
Add the mustard seeds and the red chili powder and stir well. The red chili powder is really optional but it gives the drink quite the kick. Let it sit on your kitchen counter in a sunny spot for 3-4 days. Just swirl the contents of the jar daily so that the same carrots sticks aren’t exposed to air daily. On day 2 day you will notice a deeper purple hue. You can actually taste it by day 3 and add more salt or red chili powder… If it is less tart, add some more mustard seeds.
Once the Kanji is ready, add the remaining 1/2 liter of water and you can move the jar to a cooler spot or even in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation. The drink and the crisp carrots can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Dark (evil grin) delicious and deeply addictive! It’s quite something I tell you!!!
*Note: Like with any fermented drinks and vegetables, if mold develops on the surface of the contents do not consume. This could be because of a weak brine solution or improper sterilization that allowed bad bacteria to develop rapidly.
- 2 kg Purple Carrots
- 1.5 Liters Water – Bottled or Boiled & cooled
- 2 Tablespoons Mustard Seeds
- 3-4 Tablespoons Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Red Chili Powder
- 2 Liter Jar- glass or opaque
- Sterilize the jar.
- Use a mortar and pestle and crush the mustard seeds lightly.
- Use either bottled water or boil and cool tap water.
- Pour the water into the jar followed by the salt and stir well.
- Scrub and wash the carrots.
- Peel the carrots and cut into sticks. Wear gloves to prevent hands from staining.
- Rinse the carrots sticks and add to the jar of brine.
- Add the red chili powder and the mustard seeds.
- Let the jar sit in a sunny spot for 3-4 days.
- Stir daily or shake the jar mildly to get the contents moving inside.
- Taste to check if ready. It should be salty, tangy and pungent.
- Add the remaining ½ liter of water and move to a cool spot.
- Consume within 2 months