Kanji – A Purple Memory of Springs Past!

As long as I remember, I’ve seen my mom make kanji in spring. What I loved about it as a child was the savory, tangy, spicy flavor and the purple tongue and lips it left me with after drinking. No, she didn’t add any fake color to it to make it more fun for me. One of the variations of kanji, most popular in Pakistan, is made using purple carrots. They are also called ‘Kali gajjar’ or black carrots by local people. 

Kanji – A Culinary Heritage:

Ever wondered how the generations of our grandparents and parents digested all those butter fried prathas, rich gravies and indulgent desserts so well, while we can’t! They included a lot of unprocessed and fermented things in their diet in routine that we have quit. I barely know any one among my acquaintances who still makes this probiotic, fermented drink every Spring. Now I don’t want this tradition to end with me in my family. I feel it’s part of my culinary heritage and, quite selfishly, I want to preserve it. I’ve written down this recipe in hope that my daughters, nephews and nieces will carry on this spring legacy. Or perhaps I’ll strike a chord with someone else out there in search of cherished and endangered recipes.

Health Benefits of Fermented Foods:

The health advantages of fermented foods are so amazing that if we realized them, maybe we wouldn’t ignore them so easily. They preserve nutrients in food, make the friendly bacteria ( gut flora) grow and continue their colonies in our stomachs, which help the digestive enzymes in breaking down and digesting foods. They also revive the intestinal flora damaged by the chemicals in packaged foods. There are so many other easy to make recipes from cultures all around the world that we can include in our daily diet to stay away from stomach troubles and medicines; homemade yogurt, sourdough bread, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso sauce and pickled vegetables are just a few delicious and easy suggestions.

Black/Purple Carrots History & Nutrition Facts:

Did you know that all carrots used to be purple/black or white till 16th century.  In fact, the first evidence of carrots being used as a food crop was in Afghanistan in the 10th century AD.  It’s thanks to the Dutch growers who developed the orange variety that became popular soon as it was juicier, plumper and sweeter. All carrots, independent of their color,  are packed with a variety of nutrients, such as fiber, potassium, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin A, and certain B vitamins. What makes purple carrots nutritionally unique is their content of the antioxidants anthocyanins. It’s a type of antioxidants that are found in purple fruits and vegetables like blackberries, red grapes, purple potatoes, purple cabbage, and purple carrots. It helps protect the body from health conditions such as cancer, mental decline, heart disease, and aging.

If You Liked This Recipe, Also Check

Shaljam ka Pani Wala Achaar, Turnip Pickle


Instant Korean Pickled Cucumber


1 kg black carrots
3 litres water
3 teaspoons salt or to taste
2 teaspoons red chili powder or to taste
3 teaspoons mustard seeds

This Is What You Do:

Boil water and set aside to let it cool while you prepare carrots.

Wash and pat dry the carrots on kitchen towel. Peel and cut into thin strips.
Add carrots, salt, red chillies and mustard seeds to an earthenware pot ( ghara), glass jar,a stainless steel deep pot or any other nonreactive pan with a lid.

Pour water over everything, stir and cover the mouth of the pan with a muslin cloth.

Leave in a sunny spot in your kitchen for 3-4 days, stir every morning and cover it back till the water doesn’t taste of raw carrots and chilies anymore and you can taste the juices from carrots mingled with the sour from mustard.

Keep refrigerated, serve chilled.
The carrots in the kanji liquid make excellent pickle served as a side or just munch along while you sip the drink.

Tip: You can use a combination of red carrots and beets to make kanji. Can be made with just red carrots too but that won’t add the luscious red color.

Makes 4 one litre pitchers or jars

40 Replies to “Kanji, Black Carrots Fermented Drink”

  1. This is a traditional drink which many of my Punjabi friends prepare. Black carrots are seasonal and your drink looks beautiful. tempted to make soo

  2. I love purple carrots, and this is definitely something that I would totally enjoy. I bought a whole bunch of them yesterday because I’m going on a raw food diet for a couple of days. I am totally going to make this! Thanks for the recipe, and the shared memories.

  3. Nice post, and thanks for sharing the recipe.
    I have been looking for this for long time. few months ago I happened to a Turkish restaurant in Phoenix area. and they had it. Apparently its very popular in Turkey, they call it Salgam Suyu. And in Turkey they make it with Turnips. But it tasted exactly the same as if you are drinking the carrot kanji.

    1. Thank you so much, Sohail, for stopping by and taking time to comment! Very interesting about kanji being popular in Turkey 😊 I can imagine it must taste very close with turnips because my mom used to make shaljam/turnip ka pani wala achaar and the liquid tasted very similar to kanji. I have that recipe on the blog too.
      Hope you will enjoy! 😊

  4. We love kaanji and always used to make it with black carrots in winters. A healthy and tasty fermented drink which is so good for the guts.

  5. I have never seen black carrots. But, have heard a lot about this drink from delhi friends. I think with red carrots with little beet juice I can try it

    1. Thank you, Jyoti! Yes, red carrots and beets would give the closest taste possible and a lush colour too. ☺

  6. This recipe is new to me. Thanks for sharing this. I never get a chance to see black carrots. Very interesting recipe !

    1. Thank you, Uma! It’s a traditional drink, something previous generations in our region made regularly. But most people of our generation don’t know about it.

  7. My Mum used to make this drink with normal carrots and also with some fritters too, especially during monsoon season when our digestive system works slow! When I was young I used to refuse but now I have a craving for this. I must prepare some with purple carrots that are available here.

  8. I too believe in keeping up the traditional recipes as much as I can. Never made Kanji, I think i should give a try some time. Nice share.

    1. True Jaya! I feel a responsibility as a mother and a food blogger to pass on to the next generation everything our grandmothers and mothers taught us.

  9. How beautifully you have explained it.. loved it 🙂 This is really interesting. Never tried nor tasted but love too 🙂

  10. Loved the way you have given the health benefits of this drink, have tried this drink in Delhi long back, but as we don’t get black carrots never tried it, but as you have mentioned that with red carrots also it can be made will try soon, thanks for the lovely healthy share.

    1. Thank you, Soma! Though I love it for it’s lip smacking, spicy taste but the truth is it’s a powerful health tonic. 😊

  11. Such a delight reading the post. I love it when someone promotes traditional methods and am in full agreement with you about carrying on the tradition towards healthy future and survival against many diseases. I have never tasted Kanji but one of the most powerful probiotic that south indians swear by is the Curd. We include this in all our meals and in every season and survive the changing weather, heat and all the nasty foods thats consumed once in a while. Great post!

    1. Thank you, Vidya! 😊 I’m a huge fan of curd too and it’s a staple on our daily menu too. You are right, it’s a wonderful probiotic. I think we are fortunate to have so many fermented foods in our region that are part of our cuisine culture.

  12. I love kanji. When there is slight change in weather i.e. it starts getting hotter, this is the best drink. Digestive as well as tasty. The best part of kanji is, those pickled carrots that are eaten along with sips of kanji

    1. Couldn’t agree more, Ritu! The drink along with the carrots is actually a very yummy, healthy and light midday snack. 😊

  13. They make Kanji in North India with regular carrots. Now to look for black carrots (or use your carrots + beet tip) to make this awesome drink. Is the flavour of a black carrot different from that of a regular carrot, Maria?

  14. How gorgeous and catchy this drink looks.. Wowwing here, am yet to try this drink, hope a day i will make this drink at home. Lovely.

  15. WoW very beautiful memories attached with kanji, your post refreshed my childhood memories. My dadi used to make this kanji in a same way as you made. Your kanji looks really delicious and perfect colour. This is really such a beautiful share, thanks a lot 😊

  16. Nicely explained. We don’t hear about this very often. I normally use homemade curd / lassi or apple cider vinegar with honey. Now I will add this to the list. 👍👍😊😊

  17. I had picked up kala gajar in delhi. I prepared the kanji but have no guts to open the jar. This will be my first taste of this much acclaimed drink. Your pics and write up is telling me I am missing out on some things yummy n healthy.

  18. Loved the way you explained about kanji. Tasted it long time back. Nowadays very few family make it. You are doing a great job to share the recipe for this generation.

    1. Thank you , dear Sujata! I feel as food writers and bloggers, it’s our duty to record all the recipes that reflect our time and culture,especially revive the dying traditions. Sadly, kanji has become one such tradition.

  19. I love your Kanji, Black Carrots Fermented Drink lessons. Though we don’t have black carrot in Nigeria, i will try with the red but without salt since too much salt triggers the blood level, rather i will add ginger.
    Please keep it up for generations to come so that they will learn how to avoid the processed and canned foods flooding our market.

    1. Thank you so much for your very encouraging feedback! 😊 I seriously believe that it’s not calories that’s the root cause of so many health problems in our age but it’s the processed and canned foods.
      Adding ginger sounds like a great idea to enhance flavour.
      Thank you once again for taking time to comment. 😊

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