gajar kanji or carrot kanji is a traditional punjabi fermented drink that is made in the winters. black carrots appear in the winters in north india and these give the kanji its characteristic purple color.
if you don’t have black carrots, then adding beetroot gives this rich dark purple color. thats what i did. i had made this when the winters were still there and just after a few weeks after making the kanji, the winters have gone completely
the kanji is made with simple ingredients – carrots, mustard powder, red chilli powder and black salt along with water. the mustard added to the kanji helps in keeping the body warm in the chilly winters of the north. you can also add some turnips to the kanji if you prefer.
the whole drink is kept in the sun & allowed to ferment in glass jars or ceramic jars for 3-4 days. it depends on how the sun is behaving in your region. it can be even kept for 4-5 days if the sunlight is not very strong. if its very hot, then 2 -3 days are also enough.
the kanji drink is had as an appetizer. it has a sour, spicy & pungent taste. also it is an acquired taste…. either you will love the kanji or hate it.
the carrots and beetroot get pickled in the process of fermentation and can be served as side pickle with the simple dal-rice or indian main course. they have a lovely fermented flavor and taste.
we also make urad dal vadas (black gram fritters) and soak in the kanji. this dish is called as kanji vada and is also popular. if you like dahi vada, then you will like kanji vada too.
the process of making the vada for dahi vada is the same as that for kanji vada. i have mentioned in the notes section below in case you want to make vadas for the kanji.
first we had the carrot kanji plain. then i made some urad dal vadas to go with the kanji… they were so good. you have to eat them to know the taste of the vadas soaked in this sour & pungent drink.
kanji is also a probiotic drink and extremely good for the gut. recently, i had read a well written post on the benefits of fermented food & kanji on sangeeta’s blog here. fermented foods like idli, dosa, pickles, yogurt, khimchi are good for the body. read more about fermented foods nutrition benefits here.
lets start step by step carrot kanji or gajar ki kanji recipe:
1: wash, peel and chop the carrot/gajar into long pieces as shown in pics.
2: in a dry grinder, grind the mustard to a fine powder.
3: add the carrots, beets, ground mustard powder, black salt, red chili powder and pour water.
4: stir this mixture well.
5: cover with a lid or cover with a muslin and keep the jars in the sun. allow to ferment for 2-3 days till the drink becomes sour. stir the mixture every next day with a clean wooden spoon before placing in the sun.
6: when the drink starts tasting sour, it means the gajar kanji is ready. keep carrot kanji in the fridge or serve straightway.
carrot kanji or gajar kanji recipe below:
- 5-6 medium sized carrots/gajar
- 2 small beetroots
- 8 cups water - approx 2 litres of water (boiled & filtered or purified)
- 1 or 1.5 tsp red chili powder
- 3 tbsp mustard powder (dry grind 2 or 2.5 tbsp mustard)
- black salt as required
- rinse and then peel the carrots and beetroots.
- chop into long pieces.
- mix all the ingredients in a glass or ceramic jars.
- cover with a lid or muslin cloth and keep the jars in the sun for 3-4 days.
- stir with a wooden spoon everyday before keeping the jars back in the sun.
- when the kanji tastes sour, it means the drink is fermented.
- serve carrot kanji straightway or refrigerate.
1. soak ½ cup urad dal/black gram in water overnight.
2. drain and grind the urad dal with 1 green chili, ½ tsp cumin, a pinch of asafoetida, ½ inch ginger and salt with very less water to a thick batter.
3. heat oil for deep or shallow frying. spoon the batter into the hot oil.
4. fry the vadas till they are golden brown.
5. drain on kitchen tissues.
6. soak the vadas in water for 20-25 mins.
7. press the vadas between the palms of your hands to squeeze out the water.
8. soak these vadas in the kanji overnight in the refrigerator.
9. serve the next day.