Candy Cane Beet & Carrot Kanji

Recipe 15 minPreparation Time 0 minCooking Time

Candy Cane Beet & Carrot Kanji

15 minPreparation Time 0 min Cooking Time

About this Recipe

I only discovered kanji, a probiotic, kvass-like drink from North India, when I started researching fermented foods. All my aunts in Punjab and friends from the region were like “Um, yes… we have that all the time!” This recipe brings my love of fermentation full circle to discovering something about my roots. Kanji is traditionally made with black carrots during the winter months, when the sun is gentle and perfect for fermentation conditions. To make this recipe more accessible, I’m sharing an easy alternative using juicy red carrots and candy cane beets. The most important ingredient is the sunlight!

The Benefits

Kanji is a refreshing, hydrating, probiotic drink, packed with the goodness of carrot and beet. Both are rich in phytochemical antioxidants — beta-carotene and betalain pigments respectively — that detoxify, improve immunity, and reduce inflammation. Mustard seeds add more detoxifying antioxidants, as well as folic acid, good fats, and several essential vitamins and minerals.

Equipment: Large, clean airtight glass jar (1.5 quarts/ 1 L); large glass bottle (1 L); funnel


Makes 4 cups (950 ml) of kanji and 12 oz (350 g) pickled veggies
  • 2 (170 g) red carrots
  • 2 (160 g) candy cane beets
  • 1 tsp red chili powder (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp (10 g) yellow mustard seeds, gently crushed
  • 1/2 Tbsp Indian black salt
  • ½ tsp hing (asafetida) powder (optional)
  • 4 ¼ cups (1 L) water, filtered or boiled and cooled


  1. Step 1
    Peel and cut the carrots into medium batons. Peel the beets and cut them into small rounds or chunks.
  2. Step 2
    Add the spices to a large glass jar. Add the carrot and beet, then top up with water. Close the lid and give it a good shake to swirl and mix the ingredients.
  3. Step 3
    Place the jar in an optimum location with gentle sunlight. It shouldn’t be too harsh, which will kill the good bacteria; nor too cool, which will slow fermentation.
  4. Step 4
    Let the kanji ferment for 3 to 5 days, swirling the jar occasionally. You can start tasting it after the third day. The kanji will taste sour and spicy once ready. Depending on the climate, it may take up to a week.
  5. Step 5
    You can store the jar in the fridge, where both the pickled veggies and the kanji will keep for months. Or, for easy drinking, strain the kanji into a bottle, using a funnel if you have one. In this case, store the cut carrots and beets in a smaller jar, covered with kanji, and use as a condiment.

Substitutions: Any variety of carrot or beet will work. You can also use this method of making kanji with turnips or peeled watermelon rinds. And use Himalayan pink salt or sea salt if you don’t like the pungency of black salt. You may also substitute ½ Tbsp of black mustard seeds for yellow ones.

Level Up: Use kanji to as a starter culture in your Fermented Green Chutney.

Try It With: Use the carrots and beets as a condiment in salads or sandwiches. They pair well with hummus and other dips too.