This aerated, yet healthy drink has finally made it to India : Drinks, News

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This aerated, yet healthy drink has finally made it to India

We never relate aerated with healthy, but that’s exactly what probiotic drinks kefir and kombucha are all about. All the rage in the US, they’re making their way to Mumbai shores too.

From Left to right-Kefir Lemon Molasses Iced Tea, Kefir Apple Cinnamon, Kefir Lemonade, Kefir Ginger Ale From Left to right-Kefir Lemon Molasses Iced Tea, Kefir Apple Cinnamon, Kefir Lemonade, Kefir Ginger Ale

Welcome to the fizzy world of fermented drinks, where just a little bit of SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) can turn sugar water into a probiotic, wildly healthy and mildly alcoholic beverage. That’s what Chef Siddharth Kashyap has managed in the kitchen of his Kala Ghoda restaurant The Boston Butt.
Deliciously flavoured with apple, cinnamon, ginger, coffee and more, Kashyap’s kefir is a great alternative to saccharine sweet aerated drinks or soon even a beer he hopes. “I want to start a Witte flavour with orange and coriander. I hope it tastes like the Belgian beer,” he says. Besides, considering its probiotic properties, it is also the perfect companion to The Boston Butt’s barbeques and smoked meats. Kashyap also has some kombucha brewing in his kitchen. “Also made with SCOBY, kombucha is a combination of sugared water or tea with apple cider vinegar which is to be kept for a month or so,” says the chef.  
Kefir and Kombucha, one said to have originated in the northern Caucasus Mountains and the other in ancient China, can quite easily be traced back to Hollywood; for it’s the stars who brought the fermented probiotic drinks into the limelight.


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The Boston Butt isn’t Mumbai’s only restaurant to recognize the benefits of kefir: “Creamy cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria. When added to milk, these ferment the sugars in the milk turning it into kefir. Hailing from the Turkish word ‘keif’ or good feeling, Kefir has 200 strains of good bacteria. Imagine that,” declares the 212 All Good menu. At the Lower Parel-based 212 they use milk-based kefir, sourced from Moina Oberoi, in their granola bowls, juices, and salad dressings. Oberoi’s brand MO Kefir is quite easily available on her website. If you’ve taken to kombucha, you might want to look up Bella Carlstrom. The health food junkie model regularly brews her tea-based “booch” and retails at Bandra’s iBar.
Kashyap, who has only just introduced the drinks to the menu, is thrilled to be able to bring the American trend to his southern American inspired restaurant. The kefir goes through three cycles in his kitchen: 1) the dry kefir culture is left to activate. 2) It is left to ferment for one or two days depending on the temperature. This converts sugared water into natural probiotic drinks. 3) This step is for the fizz. Natural carbonation occurs just like it does for champagne-you add limited sugar to activate yeast again.
The drinks are flavoured with natural juices. The apple cinnamon kefir has a combination of green apple and red apple juice for the right blend of sour and sweetness. The cinnamon is cooked in the reduction of the juices.
“The process is completely natural. This means you can’t control the amount of fizz,” he says apprehensively, opening a bottle of gingerale flavoured kefir. “If one bottle doesn’t fizz for the guest, we’ll just have to open another.” There’s about one per cent alcohol in the drink. About the same as an overripe banana. “You could argue it is non-alcoholic if you like. But you know that dahi has alcohol too, right?”