BENGALURU: Fermented foods are an acquired taste, though we do have our idlis and dosas. We have the starchier and blander versions but in other countries there are the more pungent recipes from vegetables, beans and greens. They are known to contribute to the gut-health and many people live by them. Hot and biting, these foods can serve well as substitutes for the highly-salted pickles. They can be served as sides or appetisers.
This is mostly made of cabbage, which has to be left to ferment for a week. The chopped leaves are mixed with fish sauce, scallions and garlic and kept in a cool air-tight container. You may need to lose the cap once in a while to let the gases that form escape. Kimchi can be used as a sauce for other veg and seafood preparations. You can get it in Korean and Chinese restaurants such as Hae Kum Gang in Ashok Nagar, Arirang in Kamanahalli and Shiro in UB City.
Greens such as leaves of either mustard or raddish are shredded and left in earthenware containers. The blackish mushy gundruk is served as a side dish, an appetiser and even mixed with soups. To prepare as soup, the leaves are friend along with thinly sliced onions, tomatoes and the usual Indian spices like turmeric. You could try it at Bamey’s Resto Cafe in Kormangala.
It is a fermented tea drink and made using SCOBY, which is symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. This is a mildly sweet drink with a bit of fizz. There is a miniscule percentage (single digit) of alcohol and unless you glug down many litres of it, you won’t get a high. This drink is credited with curing everything from diabetes and depression to AIDs and cancer, but these claims are unproven. Get it at Adi Naturals in JP Nagar, Era Organics in Sanjaynagar or Green Channel in Ali Asker Road.
Sauerkraut (China, Russia)
This is a blander form of pickled cabbage made with carroway seeds and salt. Few people put onion too with this mixture, but this depends on how strong you would like the flavour to be. This is recommended for the lactose-intolerant to get their dose of good bacteria for gut health. Served at Soo Ra Sang, behind Leela Palace.
It is made from soybeans. This is strong smelling and was earlier made by storing the beans in a haystack. The method of preparation has changed and these are now mass-produced, available in tin cans like baked beans. This is said to be high in fiber, Vitamin K and C and minerals. Nato is cooked with soya sauce and served with boiled rice. Available at Harima on Residency Road.