Kanji (Indian Probiotic Drink)

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Kanji, an Indian probiotic drink, by myheartbeets.com
In India, people have traditionally consumed a good amount of fermented foods.

Growing up, my family would make fermented drinks, pickles, achar, even meat. We never used the word “fermented” to describe these things, but that’s what they were. During the fall and winter seasons, my mom would make Kanji, a salty and sour probiotic drink that grew on me as I grew older.

Kanji is a traditional fermented Punjabi drink, only slightly similar to Beet Kvass.

I like to call it “Indian Kombucha.” It’s certainly an acquired taste, but I think true ferment enthusiasts will appreciate the unique flavor. This drink is traditionally used to help aid digestion (and it works, so drink in moderation).

Kanji and Thandai (a delicious creamy beverage) are often the drinks of choice during Holi, an Indian festival of colors.

My mom tells me that in India, her family would make Kanji using black (dark purple) carrots. If these carrots were unavailable, they’d add beetroot to help darken the color of the drink. This recipe uses both carrots and beets. In addition to these two vegetables, you’ll also need black/brown mustard seeds, fine sea salt and filtered water. These simple ingredients make for a unique and complex flavor.

Once you combine all of the ingredients together for this drink, put it in a glass container (I use a half-gallon mason jar) and keep it in a sunny spot inside the house. The amount of time required to create a ferment will depend on the temperature in your home, but this typically takes anywhere from 3 days to 1 week. If it’s colder, it’ll likely take an extra few days.

Taste the drink periodically to see if it’s done.

Once it’s nice and sour, strain it and put it in the fridge to chill. Make sure to save the carrots and beets, they’ll make for tasty pickles!

Kanji, an Indian probiotic drink, by myheartbeets.com

Kanji (Indian Probiotic Drink)

Kanji, an Indian probiotic drink, by myheartbeets.com

Kanji (Indian Probiotic Drink)

4.84 from 6 reviews
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Ingredients
 

  • 1 tablespoon Brown Mustard Seeds crushed
  • 4-5 large carrots peeled
  • 1 large beet peeled
  • 6-7 cups filtered water or enough to cover the vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon Fine Sea Salt

Instructions
 

  • Crush the mustard seeds in a mortar pestle or a coffee grinder (it’s okay if they’re coarsely ground).
  • Chop the carrots and beet into long pieces.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a glass jar (I use a half-gallon mason jar) and cover with a lid or cheesecloth.
  • Let the jar sit in a sunny spot for at least one week - stirring with a wooden spoon daily.
  • Once the kanji develops a tangy flavor, that means the drink is fermented.
  • Strain the drink, save the pickles to enjoy later.
  • Put the drink in the refrigerator to chill.
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Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.

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Comments

    • Ashley - My Heart Beets says

      Hi, I have only tried this with black/brown mustard seeds. I believe yellow mustard seeds are milder in flavor – so that may affect the outcome of the kanji. If you try, please let me know how it turns out!

  1. Vinod says

    5 stars
    Hi, I live in Buenos Aires Argentina. The climate is generally mild and gets hot for a few weeks only. Pls confirm if I can replace Mustard seeds by some other ingredient ? We do not get mustard seeds here.
    Also, if I prepare Kanji in quantity and wanna keep for weeks – is there anything that I could add to it to make it last longer ?

  2. Anica says

    Thank you for he recipe.

    I live in UK, and its mostly cold here. Will my drink still ferment. Where can I keep it for this process as there is hardly ever any sun here!!

  3. David Shilman says

    Looks delish! With the fermentation, does it develop small amounts of alcohol, like kombucha does? (Or is that from the sugar in kombucha? I’m obviously not a chemist or food scientist! 😉 )

    Thanks!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Thanks David! To be honest… I’m really not sure about the alcohol content but that’s a good question. Hopefully another reader will see this and be able to respond because now I’m curious too lol.

  4. Shantala Bhat says

    I tried this but got some some white and grey foamy spots on the top, on the third day itself.
    Has something gone wrong.
    Shall I discard it?

  5. preeti says

    If i try this in instant pot (yogurt mode). how long i should keep it in ? what do you suggest ?

    • shiva says

      Never ferment things in metal pots or plastic containers. Use clay pots or glass. If you must use metal, make sure it has ceramic layer blocking contact with the metal. Fermentation can react with metals/plastic.

  6. Anna says

    5 stars
    Hi Ashley! Thank you for this wonderful recipe! I love the taste! I’m used to drink kombucha and this is something new. How often do you drink it? How long can it stay? Do you live the pickles without water in the fridge? Thank you!

    • Shilpa says

      5 stars
      I get a thick layer on top on 5 th day with some white fungus growth .. shld I discard the drink .. how many days can the drink be kept in fridge.

    • Shivani says

      Taste it. If it is tangy and tempting, then the foamy texture is only a result of fermentation.
      If the taste is not pleasant, you need to discard it.
      Care must be taken while mixing the ingredients. Jar must be sterile, hands clean.

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