Fermented foods and beverages are becoming increasingly popular. You can now find kombucha on tap in bars, sourdough bread in cafes and more varieties of yoghurt, sauerkraut and kimchi in your local supermarket. Today, more people are turning to these foods for their potential health benefits.
Fermented foods have been part of the human diet for centuries, and Essentially a metabolic process of preserving food, fermentation involves controlling bacteria and yeast to transform food into fuel by releasing into our stomach, microorganisms that are essential for facilitating digestion.
Fermented foods are filled with beneficial bacteria that helps in boosting good bacteria in the digestive system. The amazing thing about Fermented food is that they are budget-friendly and will help you to secure food for a longer period.
Consumption of fermented foods is good in many ways like it enhances the bioavailability, reduces symptoms of lactose intolerance, and holding anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.
What are fermented foods?
Fermented foods are foods and beverages that have undergone controlled microbial growth and fermentation.
Fermentation is an anaerobic process in which microorganisms like yeast and bacteria break down food components (e.g. sugars such as glucose) into other products (e.g. organic acids, gases or alcohol).
While Natural Fermentation can be done by leaving food overnight or for many days to initiate natural fermentation.
This gives fermented foods their unique and desirable taste, aroma, texture and appearance. There are thousands of different types of fermented foods.
Fermented Foods and their Types
Fermented foods have been a significant part of traditional Indian cuisine, irrespective of the state you are in. They are made from a variety of ingredients as well as colourful fruits and vegetables. Largely there are 7 types of fermented foods:
1. Made from cereals and/or pulses – Idli, dosa, Ambala, nan, pazhaya, etc.
2. Buttermilk based including cereal/pulses – Kadi, Kulu, Mor Kuzhambu, etc.
3. cereal-based fermented sweets and snacks – Tiskari, jalebi, Bhatura, Torani, Changpa, Thuktal, etc.
4. Made from milk – Curd, Philuk, Somar, Chhu, Chirping, etc.
5. Made from unripe fruits, bamboo shoots, vegetables – sauerkraut, Iromba, Meshu, Goyang, Gundruk, Sinki, Khorisa-Tenga, etc.
6. Made from meat products – Yak Satchu, Hentak, Lona Ilish, Uttonggari, etc.
7. Made from pulses – Bedwin roti, dhokla, khaman, Madrah, wadi, Bekanthu, Hawaijar, etc.
Top 7 Indian Fermented Superfoods
Fermented foods are a staple in the Indian diet, with most meals incomplete without a bevy of Lacto-fermented achaar (pickles) that add a healthy kick of flavours, from sweet-and-sour to spicy and tangy.
Found in every Indian household, Dahi is prepared by naturally fermenting cow or buffalo’s milk. It is a rich source of folic acid, riboflavin, vitamin B-complex, and lactic acid bacteria. Used in the daily diet, it is rich in probiotics or good bacteria thereby improving gut health. It further impedes the growth of E. coli and other bad bacteria in the gut.
A traditional fermented food, Dhokla is a staple food item of Gujarat. It is prepared using Bengal gram and/or rice. Rice and pulse flour is fermented with curd and then steamed. The resulting item is airy and spongy. The process of fermentation increases the antioxidant property of making it easily digestible and suitable for diabetics as well. It helps in combating age-related diseases and diabetes.
Here is dhokla recipe: https://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/recipe/Khaman-Dhokla-KhaanaKhazana.html
Buttermilk is made by adding a bacteria culture to nonfat or low-fat milk. The result is a tart, fermented liquid that’s thicker than milk. Buttermilk can be used to lighten pancake batter and is the secret ingredient in coleslaw responsible for its creaminess and tangy flavour. To be sure that you’re getting buttermilk that is rich in probiotics, be sure to pick a container with an “active cultures” label.
Spiced buttermilk recipe: https://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/chaas-recipe-buttermilk-recipe/
Kombucha is a fermented drink made of black tea and sugar (from various sources like cane sugar, fruit or honey). It contains a colony of bacteria and yeast that is responsible for initiating the fermentation process once combined with sugar.
Do fermented foods like kombucha contain alcohol? Kombucha has trace amounts of alcohol but too little to cause intoxication or even to be noticeable.
Homemade naturally fermented pickles are amazing for the health of your gut. They contain tons of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which a store-bought jar of fermented pickles might not contain.
Idli is a round, fluffy bread, made from ground rice or rice flour mixed with ground black gram, salt, methi (fenugreek seeds) and water. The mixture is allowed to ferment before being steamed in an idli steamer. It makes an important contribution to the diet as a source of protein, calories and vitamins, especially B‐complex vitamins, compared to the raw unfermented ingredients.
Here is an easy idli recipe: https://m.tarladalal.com/idli-1652r
Kanji is a fermented drink made from antioxidant-rich black carrots, beetroot, mustard seeds, water and black salt, with the potent concoction preserved in ceramic jars and left to ferment in the sun for as long as two to three days before being strained and served. It has a pungent, zingy flavour which might take a while to grow on you.
Here is the probiotic kanji recipe
These food items are packed with nutrients and essential vitamins and minerals. It helps in boosting your body’s immune system and fighting common diseases such as cold, indigestion, obesity, and many other ailments.
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and include these unique fermented food items in your diet and reap the many benefits.
By Priyanshi Bhatnagar