We made a big matka full of kanji today for the family, knowing that kaali gajar (black carrots) will go out of season soon and this lot will be last for now, at least till this root vegetable comes back on the vegetable vendors’ carts. Even though I was familiar with kanji (mom would make it every year) and have sipped it off and on in other people’s houses too since then, there was no tradition/practice of making it in my house.
Plain laziness, no other excuse!
But that changed this year, mostly because hubby’s digestion had been playing up and he came to know (no, not from me, but someone else) that kanji is just the thing to get it back in order. As a result we first made one lot and then the second and soon all three of us were downing a glass a day religiously. The thing is, kanji is definitely one of the biggest ‘good gut’ secret that needs to get out there. And now!
Laziness be dammed!
How does it help? Well, in multiple ways:
- First as it is a fermented drink, it helps put the balance of good versus bad bacteria back in order, helping the good bugs increase in number in the intestines. Good bugs help us digest the food, absorb micro nutrients like the Vit B group and Vit K better, and assist our digestive enzymes to help them work better. And we do need more of these, specially as pollution, stress and wrong food habits work kill them fast enough. So basically fermented kanji is our very own home grown probiotic food, that works like magic. And when our gut is sorted, our immune system works efficiently too. So there’s double bonus there!
- Secondly, this kaali gajar offers some extraordinary nutritional benefits (over and above those offered by the orange gajars) due to their high concentration of anthocyanins, which are proven anti-carcinogenic and also have strong anti-inflammatory and eye health protecting qualities.
- Thirdly the culturing (fermenting) process amplifies the health benefits and increases the available vitamins and enzymes of that carrot, an already haloed vegetable packs in: fibre, beta carotene, vitamin K, Vitamin B8, potassium, manganese and multiple antioxidants.
- Another plus is the good fats (MUFA) that rai (sesame) adds to the drink. Research has found that MUFA-rich diet helps people lose weight and body fat without changing their calorie intake. Now what can be better news than that! Sesame seeds are packed with calcium and zinc and also help keep our bad cholesterol levels down.
Go on make it! Recipe:
And finally if you are thinking who’s going to make the tedious thing, here’s the thing – it is super easy to make. Just sounds tough as it is unfamiliar. Here’s how to go about it:
Get hold of a large glass or ceramic jar with lid (I find a simple match, does the job equally well). Cut 4 big kaali gajars (500 gm) into 3 inch long pieces and put them in the matka, add 3 liters of water, 1/2 tsp red chilly (acc to taste), 1 tbsp black salt and 4 tbsp of powdered rai (mustard seeds), preferably black rai. Cover the matka with a thin muslin cloth and keep it on a sunny windowsill or in a warm place for 3-4 days. Stir with a spoon and taste the fermented pickling solution; it’s ready when it tastes sour/tangy. Filter the dark purple colored solution adjust seasoning (you might like to add some more of black salt), fill it up in glass bottles and refrigerate for up to a month. Eat the pickled carrots along with your meals. Yes, that easy!
I say make it quick, at least one lot before this vegetable bids adieu for a few months. And then later do what I intend to: make it with regular gajar and add one beet for the colour. But keep drinking it, now that you know just how good it is for us.
Kavita Devgan is a Nutritionist, Weight Management Consultant and Health Writer based in Delhi. She is also the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico). She contributes to the column Kavita’s Korner every Wednesday for this blog.
Follow her on Twitter here: @kavitadevgan