Who knew learning about fermentation could be such a fun thing?
Mumbai rains can dampen roads but not the spirit of Mumbaikars. On one such rainy Saturday, when Mumbai had received a red alert from the Met department, a few Mumbaikars gathered in a quaint city restaurant for a workshop, which, from the word go, spelt interesting.
Industry experts such as MO's Kefir founder Moina Oberoi, fermentation fanatics Satyan, Rohan and Ayush, Chef Harish Devadkar and mixologist Sukumar gathered at Khar's The Looney, The Lover and The Poet to talk about probiotics, and throw us a probiotic tea party. Trust me, it was as cool as the name sounds.
From learning what it means and why do we need lacto-fermentation in life to tasting teas and food, this tea party was completely hatke. Seated in the Poet section of the cute-a*s restaurant under open-air (covered for the rains), the session began with a basic introduction and a lot of helpful tips from the curators, who took turns in explaining how we will go about things, and how each item is prepared.
MO Superfoods's Moina Oberoi
We tasted eight different recipes and were handed recipe cards, too. First off, we started with Ginger Bug — the sweet, spicy, sour in taste magic drink from England. As the name suggests, the prominent flavour was of ginger and it was fermented for five days.
You can use it to prepare ginger ale, probiotic lemonade, or like a warm-up drink for your ginger beer. Since the after-taste was pretty lasting, I needed water to cleanse my palette to try the next item on the list. Which was Tepache.
Tepache, a summer delight drink that originates from Mexico, is basically pineapple (or just pineapple peels — the ones you throw away), brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger left to ferment for two-three days. It tasted sour, but that's how it is supposed to be.
Up next, we were served a Tepache-based cocktail. Gin, honey, basil leaves with of course, Tepache made a delightful drink. If Tepache concoction is very sour for you, then a drink with added sugar certainly balances it out. It was very refreshing, TBH. Also, for non-alcoholics there was a mocktail option available, minus the gin.
These health drinks are elixirs of life
Next we were served Korea's bread and butter – kimchi and rice (sticky). It's super tasty and very healthy at the same time. Kimchi is prepared with cabbage, carrots, radish, chives, spring onion, brown sugar, rice flour, onions, garlic and fish sauce. It is left to ferment for three to four days. While tasting it, a flavour explosion happened in my mouth. This was my favourite thing of the day.
Right after kimchi, we were treated to north India's favourite desi cooler – Carrot Kaanji. We all have had kaanji, haven't we? It's a Holi drink (hope you got the pun) that originated from Punjab. The tangy glass filled with good nutrients of carrots and beetroots has a strong flavour of mustard seeds. Since I love the mustard flavour, I quite enjoyed this winter drink.
Then came the healthy crisps made using Sourdough – the oldest and most original form of leavened bread. All you have to do is take whole wheat flour, add water to it and let it ferment for five days. But remember each day you have to feed the culture, i.e, removing and adding flour and water to the mix. Once the dough is ready, you can use it for making breads, crackers, rotis, et al. It is really good for your health.
It was Kefir o' clock according to the watches. And we were served Moina's special drink which is said to champagne of dairy. Milk and active kefir grains left to culture for 24 hours or less. Result? This magic drink which is tangy, just the right amount.
By this time, my palette had tasted so many things. I had to sip on water before trying on the next things. And then we were treated to some sour cabbage, i.e. Sauerkraut. It is just fermented cabbage and salt, and one of the tastiest side dishes Europeans enjoy.
Lastly, we sipped on some tea of immortality – Kombucha. The Chinese call it Immortal Health Elixir and the health benefits of it are endless. Though the one I tasted seemed a bit bland. Maybe because of the tea used to prepare it. The gentleman sitting across me from the table explained how it should be stronger in taste and why it tastes the way it tasted. But anyhow, the point is that it's healthy and very, very easy to make.
Mustard seeds in kombucha paste
With that, the workshop concluded and I was full of A LOT of healthy things. Plus, I learnt hell lot about the origins and benefits of things that will make me a healthier person.
In case you are wondering how would you incorporate probiotics in your daily life, here are some pointers:
So, for a stronger immune system, regulated appetite and healthy gut, add probiotics to your daily life. Cheers!
P.S. There should be more such tea-parties. Agree?
Probiotic tea party, anyone? GIF: Giphy