Kefir, a delicious fermented milk drink, has gained a big following in Singapore in the last few years. We dig into where it comes from and how to drink it.
From the Russian tundra
Kefir appeared on the Singaporean food scene about three years ago. The trend, often for home-making the drink, started originally on Facebook, with groups gaining thousands of members over just a few months. But in 2017, kefir started making its way into restaurants and cafes in a big way. The origins of the drink itself are cloudier. It is likely that it originated in Russia, but equally, in Latin America it is known as ‘Bulgarian drink’, so it may be from there, and it’s also possible that the word and drink derive from Turkey or Kurdistan.
A process that requires patience
Unsurprisingly, given that it likely originated in the treacherous Russian tundra where spacious worktops and kitchen utensils were not exactly rife, this drink is made using a simple method. The base ingredients are milk (cow, sheep or goat, depending on the type of taste desired) and kefir grains, which are a culture made up of lactic acid bacteria and different types of yeasts. Yes, that does mean the drink is alive, but don’t let that put you off! To make the drink, milk and kefir grains are mixed together and then left in a relatively warm, dark place (usually in a glass container) for between 12 and 24 hours while the mixture ferments. It is this fermentation process that gives the milk its slightly tart taste and infuses it with the bacteria that make the drink so good for your gut. Once the fermentation has taken place, the grains are removed (they swell in size during fermentation so are easy to remove), and then it’s good to go.
A versatile drink
There are a lot of good ways to drink (or eat) kefir. The most common is to drink it as a tangy, probiotic equivalent to milk. This is great at breakfast. It’s also a good equivalent for milk with cereal, giving the humble bowl a greater depth of flavour. But there are actually plenty of more adventurous things to be done with it as well. It can be added to sourdough bread, scones, waffles or other forms of bread, especially as a substitute for buttermilk. Or, it can be turned into ice cream, making that particular indulgence an awful lot healthier.
Kefir is here to stay
Whichever way you cut it, kefir is here to stay. It’s easy to make at home and a delicious end to any meal when you’re out. So, next time you’re feeling like the bacteria in your gut needs a little loving and you fancy a tangy milk drink, why not try it?