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
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.