Holi 2024: 5 Kanji Variations To Enjoy With Your Feast

Along with playing with colours, Holi is a festival to indulge in mouth-watering traditional dishes like gujiyas, dahi-bhalle and thandai. Celebrated on the full moon date of Phalgun month, this festival often coincides with the arrival of spring-summer in India. Therefore, a glass of cool and refreshing kanji is one of most of the preferred drinks on Holi, to combat the heat and aid digestion after indulging in calorie-loaded treats. 

Often referred as the Indian variation of kombucha, kanji is widely consumed in the northern part of India. Traditionally made with vegetables like red carrots and beetroot, the fermented drink is packed with probiotics and antioxidants. But did you know this refreshing beverage also has different variations, with some of them also featuring spices like cumin and mustard seeds for an extra kick. In few regions of India, kanji is not just a drink, combined with rice, curd and many other ingredients, it is also served as an accompaniment or soup. 

Kanji Vada 

This classic dish is common in several Indian households during Holi, specially in Rajasthan and Gujarat. To prepare this popular street food, crispy vada made with urad dal is soaked in fermented rai water and the drink has a spicy taste due to the addition of spices like red chilli and asafoetida. You can also enjoy the beverage without the vada. 

Gajar Kanji 

This simple yet delightful kanji drink made with red carrots (or black carrots), mustard seeds and salt is mostly enjoyed during the winter season. To prepare this classic beverage, boil carrots and add mustard seeds and salt to the water. Let it ferment under the sun for at least three days and the result is a tangy and salty drink with a unique crunch from the carrots. Instead of mixing with the beverage, the leftover carrots can also be used for making pickles with salt or transformed into sweet halwa. 

Carrot-Beetroot Kanji  

Take the taste and nutrients of gajar kanji to the next level by adding fibre-rich beetroots to the recipe. The combination of both these root vegetables creates a beautiful red colour, while the fermentation process adds a delightful zingy taste to the kanji. Adding a pinch of red chilli powder and asafoetida to the drink can give it an extra kick.  

Dahi Kanji  

Also, known as torani kanji, this wholesome and flavourful drink belongs to the kitchens of Orissa. Curd, being an integral part of Odia cuisine, is the primary ingredient of the dish which is mixed with rice water, vegetables and spices and then tempered with curry leaves, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Packed with probiotics, this delicacy is also a part of mahaprasad which is served to Lord Jagannath at Jagannath temple, Puri. This creamy and slightly tart dish can also be served with rice for lunch. 

Jeera Kanji

Packed with the goodness of cumin, fenugreek and rice, this kanji is a filling and healthy option to cool yourself during hot the summer. Being very popular in the Malabar region of India, it is also a part of Iftaar meal in the Muslim community. Often relished as a comforting porridge, jeera kanji is effective in treating digestive problems. For the full scope of flavour from the cumin seeds, toasting them can add an earthy depth, elevating the flavours of the final product.