Even though fermentation has been around for centuries as a way to preserve food, in recent years fermented foods and beverages have witnessed a huge surge in their popularity owing to the various health benefits they offer. Fermented foods are essentially foods or beverages produced through controlled microbial growth and the conversion of food components through enzymatic action. In our everyday lives, we have been consuming a host of fermented foods including curd, pickle, dosa, idli and kanji, among others. However, of late there are a host of other products that are gaining immense popularity like kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, sourdough, and kvass. Let’s take a look at some of them and know from the food industry stalwarts what makes these foods much-sought-after.
Jaipur-based nutritional psychologist and food stylist, Dr. Divolka Gyanjee while breaking down the health benefits of fermentation says: “Simply put, fermentation is providing the right controlled environment to the good bacteria so that they increase their population. When consumed, they join the trillions of bacteria that inherently reside in the gastrointestinal system and help create a better-balanced microflora. These bacteria help in the production of feel-good and happy hormones and also aids in building immunity. Furthermore, fermented food activates the immune cells in our gut and starts a movement in them. In some studies, it has also been noted that fermented food helps in speedy recovery when you are sick. Not only fermented foods increase the nutritional value of our food, they are also rich in Vitamin C, Iron, and Zinc — all of which are proven to contribute to a stronger immune system.”
Of Kombucha & Sourdough
A fermented drink that has been making waves in the recent past is, undoubtedly, the Kombucha. It is a lightly effervescent, sweetened black or green tea which is known to be packed with probiotics, vitamins and antioxidants. Available in a wide array of flavours, it is a healthier alternative to canned drinks and other high-on-sugar mixers used to make cocktails and mocktails.
Talking about her love for Kombucha, Pink City’s popular food blogger, Radhika Agarwal says: “I had read about Kombucha on the internet a lot of times and tried it for the first time at a Farmer’s Market few years back in Jaipur. I love chilled drinks which are fizzy and so I instantly fell in love with it. It’s definitely a healthier choice over a cold drink and packaged drinks as it is loaded with prebiotics, probiotics as well as antioxidants. I love trying different flavours of Kombucha, especially during summers and it’s a great option to use as a mixer with your alcoholic drinks as well.”
Throwing light on the age-old tradition of fermentation, Radhika adds: “Fermented food items are not a millennial or Gen-Z thing, as people usually presume. It dates back to hundreds and thousands of years. Pickles and sirke wale pyaz (Vinegar Onions) have been commonplace in all Indian households since times immemorial. After having incorporated fermented items in my regular diet, I have noticed that my gut health has improved a lot.”
In Jaipur, Radhika suggests getting your stock of Kombucha from CommBucha by MAVI, Pure Vibes and Café Quaint. A few commercial brands of Kombucha are also available at Shoppers Paradise, Tiny Roots and Jaipur Modern Kitchen in C-Scheme. The Jawahar Kala Kendra situated Café Quaint was in fact the first cafe in Jaipur to introduce Kombucha back in 2017.
“We’ve had Kombucha on the menu from the very beginning but back then since we were just testing the waters here we introduced only two kinds of it — a regular plain Kombucha and a rose-flavoured one. Gradually people developed the taste and liking for it and now the demand has increased multifold. This led us to experiment with the process and flavour combinations and we now brew over 20 liters of Kombucha every week”, tells Ayesha Sajjan, Co-Owner and Head Chef of Café Quaint.
Another popular fermented product at Café Quaint is the Sourdough bread, which witnessed a huge surge in its popularity in the lockdown last year. Made simply with flour, water and a sourdough culture, it is considered a much healthier alternative to regular white or brown bread. “The biggest challenge for us has been temperature. It plays a very important role in natural fermentation and the heat in Jaipur sometimes complicates things. Kombuchas are brewed for upto a week, and our breads are handcrafted and proofed upto 36 hours before baking. The processes are long and tedious but the nutrition profile and all the love we get from Jaipur makes it all worth it!”, adds Ayesha.
Do you let us know your favourite fermented products and from where do you get them in Jaipur.
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