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Bengaluru is in a state of ferment: Korean kimchi, Sauerkraut are replacing the age-old Indian pickle



BENGALURU: Reviving her grandmother’s winter ritual has been Kanishka Sharma’s way of spending the nippy season. The freelance chef pickled leftover vegetables like ladies’ finger, radish and baby onions using vinegar or brine in glass jars at home for personal use. Even the menu for the chef ’s table curated by Sharma over the weekend threw in a course dedicated to pickled veggies. “My grandmother would use the apt winter sun to pickle and preserve seasonal vegetables like ladies’ finger and Thai eggplant for later use in sambhar. Today, I am pickling food for cheese-boards, salads and as snack substitutes,” says Sharma.


Pickling, culturing and fermenting food are becoming a movement in Bengaluru. It has been an age-old tradition worldwide with Korean kimchi, Eastern Europe’s cultured milk kefir and kombucha tea, Sauerkraut or German fermented cabbage to India’s dosa, idli and pickles. Bengaluru’s rising awareness about gut health and probiotics has revived the trend in a modern avatar.

In the last six months, health coach Mariam Begg has seen a surge in queries for her kefir water recipe on social media.

“Modern eating habits have damaged our digestive systems with bad bacteria. Rising health consciousness has people reading about and naturally fermented food like kefir and kimchi in their daily diet. One can also add homemade ‘achaar’ to their meal once a day,” says Begg.


Restaurants are adding fermented and pickled food to dining menus. Sly Granny serves a fermented platter with seasonal veggies like black carrots, cauliflower and baby turnips. It was launched as a side dish in the breakfast menu six months ago. In-house pickled okra and cucumbers are used, too, as components in sandwiches and burgers. Chef Varun Pereira of the restobar says, “This is a new flavour profile that will keep diners excited. Rather than using routine vinegars like apple cider, I will soon make in-house vinegar using offbeat ingredients like strawberries and walnuts.”

Besides ageing meats, The Smoke Co eatery in Koramangala serves a red chilli sauce fermented for four days, sauerkraut or cabbage pickle with sausages and a Naga-style beef smoked with soya bean fermented for 2-3 months. “The hipster version of the age-old tradition of fermentation has emerged as a trend since healthy eating became cool. The real future of this trend lies in the rise of ready-made products on shelves of stores,” says chef-restaurateur Gautam Krishnakutty.

Department store Foodhall has a dedicated section for kombucha, kimchi, kanji, miso and sauerkraut. COO Jay Jhaveri says, “We have seen sales from this section double in the last one year.”

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