The Festival of Holi —  a Hindu celebration of the beginning of spring, of love, and of colour, riotous colour, people throwing colour with spices, pigments, coloured waters, all over each other in frolicsome revelry.  I’ve only read about this, but it’s a source of fantasy, one day before I die to be somewhere in India during this time, to witness, no, to be part of it all.  The experience of colour is one of my greatest joys.  And vintage cookbooks!


Until then, and if even if not, there’s a recipe in my fascinating book from 1954, called Indian Cooking, by Savitri Chowdhary, who offers an easy and appealing recipe for Kanji, a fermented drink of such a wonderful colour that it’s often prepared to celebrate this holiday.  The black carrot is used in India for a purply colour, substitution for which a small piece 0f beetroot is often suggested.  We know well the fermented drink of osmotic beet called Kvass, and can imagine a similar carrot drink.  In full carrot season, one could use the purple carrots that come as part 0f Rainbow Carrots.    I’m just going for the plain ole’ orange (hardly plain!), excited to watch it get more orange in the few days it takes for the full fermentation (maybe 2 days in warm climes, 4 days (?) here in Wales– though she says a week I think the tanging will begin sooner), with the warmth of the garam masala, the heat of the mustard seed, the sizzle of the chilli powder, and the salt of the salt.

IMG_0745 (*see below for corrective)

Strain and drink the elixer– though Chowdhary writes of “the pickle,” the real thrill of Kanji is “the juice.”


Holi 2015 begins tomorrow.  I don’t think this Kanji will be ready in time. Never mind, something to look forward to a little longer, and wanting to share now if anyone out there in the cybersphere wants to be making some too.  Will post an update…*



Reduce the salt by 1/2 or even 2/3!!!!!