Kanji, also known as “rice water,” is a traditional fermented drink that is popular in Indian cuisine, particularly in the northern regions.
It is made from fermenting rice with water and sometimes other ingredients, resulting in a tangy and slightly sour beverage.
1. Ingredients: The main ingredient of kanji is rice, preferably whole grain or parboiled rice. The rice is soaked in water for a few hours or overnight. Some variations may include additional ingredients like carrots, beets, mustard seeds, or spices such as black salt, chilli powder, or turmeric.
2. Fermentation: After soaking, the rice and water mixture is left to ferment for a couple of days in a cool and dark place. During fermentation, lactic acid bacteria naturally present in the rice convert the starches into lactic acid, giving kanji its characteristic tangy and sour taste.
3. Tangy Flavor: The fermentation process gives kanji its distinctive sour flavour, similar to that of sourdough or fermented food. The level of tanginess can vary depending on the fermentation time and the specific recipe used.
4. Probiotic Benefits: Like other fermented foods, kanji is known for its probiotic properties. The fermentation process increases the presence of beneficial bacteria that can support gut health and digestion.
5. Digestive Aid: Kanji is often consumed as a digestive aid, particularly during the Holi festival in India. It is believed to help cleanse the digestive system and provide relief from digestive issues.
6. Seasonal Drink: Kanji is traditionally consumed during the spring season in India, especially during the festival of Holi. It is considered a refreshing and cooling drink to combat the heat of the season.
7. Variation: While rice-based kanji is the most common, there are variations of kanji made with other grains like millet or sorghum. These variations may have slight differences in taste and texture.
Kanji is a unique and traditional Indian beverage with a tangy flavour and gut-friendly properties.
It is enjoyed as a refreshing drink during specific seasons and festivals, and it holds cultural significance in Indian culinary traditions.