Considered to be healthy and very in-trend, Goans are also now starting to brew ‘kombucha’. And chef Alistair Dias from Margao is at the forefront of this, having formed a community Chef_Kombucha. NT BUZZ gets you some interesting details
Danuska Da Gama | NT BUZZ
People today are more open to experimenting with new eats and drinks. And the latest on the list is kombucha, a very healthy fermented drink, slightly alcoholic, lightly fizzy and served either as a sweetened black or green tea drink.
While sometimes called kombucha tea, to distinguish it from the culture of bacteria and yeast, often, it is played around with juice, spices, fruit and other flavourings to enhance the taste.
Available at several restaurants and off the shelves at some supermarkets, the trend has led to kombucha lovers coming together to form a community, Chef_Kombucha, spearheaded by chef Alistair Dias from Radisson Blu Resort, Cavelossim.
Previously an in-flight manager, Dias, who enjoys sustainable cooking, decided to quit this job after seven years and follow his passion of being a chef where the idea of being creative and innovative with food always gave him that inner boost.
“This opportunity was given to me by corporate executive chef Mahesh Ishwar who believed in me and gave me a platform to work as a management trainee chef with no prior kitchen work experience at all,” says Dias.
Working with chef Ishwar and team allowed Dias to take his imagination and creativity with ingredients in the kitchen to a new level, allowing guests to experience a truly divine and out of the world gastronomy sojourn.
And his latest obsession is kombucha. Chef_Kombucha as he is referred to on the online platform recalls his first encounter with this healthy drink that is thought to have originated in Manchuria where the drink is traditionally consumed, or somewhere in Russia and Eastern Europe.
“My first encounter with kombucha was here at The Radisson Blu Cavelossim with sous chef Monish Santosh who loves experimenting and Pratyusha Jain who conducted a kombucha training session at the hotel premises,” he says. Home brewed globally, and locally, even in Goa, it is bottled and sold commercially by various companies too.
Since then Dias has been experimenting with various flavour profiles and characteristics of kombucha such as natural carbonation and extending the fermentation to form kombucha vinegar.
Through his Instagram page, Chef_Kombucha, he has reached out to several people in Goa and guides them on the making of this healthy pro-biotic drink that is good for the gut. “There are more than 100 families who are brewing kombucha and consuming it on daily basis in Goa,” says Dias, who aims to make as many people as possible aware of the benefits of this naturally frizzy healthy beverage.
Made by fermenting sugared tea using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) commonly called a ‘mother’ or ‘mushroom’, Dias tells us that he specially makes the culture for the members of his community all based on their taste preferences.
“You can infuse various flavours in the kombucha, however I infuse flavours keeping in mind the nutritional value and health benefit of the ingredients,” says Dias. These include cumin, tamarind, basil, rosemary, lemongrass, ginger, strawberry, Holy basil (tulsi), red cabbage, orange, pineapple, ajwain, cucumber, dried raisin, watermelon, honeydew, beetroot, peach, apple cinnamon, pears, neem, and several more.
Attributing the popularity of this drink to several health benefits, Dias says: “With the growing health fanatics’ culture in Goa that is also being popularised by the West a lot of attention has been drawn to this unique beverage that has pro-biotic
Can Kombucha prevent cancer?
There’s growing evidence that kombucha may assist with the prevention of certain types of cancer, although more research is needed. This claim is based on kombucha having antioxidant properties, which help rid the body of free radicals and other harmful substances that promote the growth of cancerous cells, notes the review in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
A study published in the January-February 2013 issue of Biomedicine & Preventive Nutrition found that kombucha inhibits angiogenesis, which the National Cancer Institute explains is the growth of new blood vessels. The study highlighted that prostate cancer is angiogenesis-dependent, meaning that new blood cells can feed and contribute to the growth of these tumors. By inhibiting angiogenesis, researchers concluded that kombucha could help decrease the survival of prostate cancer cells.
According to the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry review, the compounds in kombucha which may help inhibit cancer growth include polyphenols, gluconic acid, glucuronic acid, lactic acid, and vitamin C.
Make kombucha at home
Combine hot water and sugar in a glass jar.
Stir until sugar dissolves. The water should be hot enough to steep the tea but does not have to be boiling.
Place tea bags in sugar water to steep. Cool it down to room temperature.
Remove tea bags and strain the liquid.
Add tea starter with the active SCOBY and cover with muslin cloth and leave it undisturbed for 10 days.
The longer the kombucha ferments, the less sweet and more vinegary it tastes.
What are the benefits
As kombucha is the product of fermentation, a number of probiotic bacteria are produced. At specific concentrations, probiotic bacteria can help to balance the gut microbiome in humans and improve digestion.
Antioxidants protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals (by-product of processes in the body).
Kombucha contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals which are produced when the yeast breaks down the sugars, including vitamin C and B, vitamins B1, B6, and B12.
Promotes healthy gut and liver and boosts immunity.
Good for joints, heart, weight management.
The epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) found in the green tea of some types of kombucha boost metabolism.