‘Bamboo is sort of grass.”
“What?” I reacted as I about took a big bite of chicken cooked in bamboo shoots. The sentence, “I love bamboo shoots” will be the understatement of this year as I devour bamboo shoots. As I was recovering from the shock, my cousin continued with her knowledgepedia.
“Yes. It is not only a grass but also the tallest grass in the world. Oh God! The times when I ridiculed my vegetarian friends that they eat grasses are coming back to me!”
“I can’t believe! Since when we are eating this species of grass by the way?”
“Ummm..I don’t know. I think I need to dig more books.”
This little scene was from early years when I recently learned to try different food items. The town where I grew up was not fond of bamboo shoots but I loved it. The smell when you opened the jar of bamboo shoots pickle manages to tickle my taste buds at any point of time. Since I love to dig the culinary history of my food, this “we-are-eating-grass-as-bamboo-shoots” remained alive in my memory. It was years later when I dig up bamboo shoots’ history.
A Little History of Bamboo Shoots
Bamboos are the fastest growing plants in the world. They belong to the Bambusoideae subfamily of grass. Bamboos are the indispensable part of many Asian cultures including my native one. The rural scenario of Assam (a north-eastern state of India) is incomplete without bamboos. From huts to fencing, from bed to sofa, from music instrument to decorative pieces, we Assamese rely so much on bamboos.
The young sprouts of a bamboo are widely consumed as food all over the world. It is widely used in cuisines like Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Burmese, Vietnamese, Nepalese, and Assamese etc. The earliest proof of bamboo shoots as food dates back to Tang dynasty (618-907 AD) of China. Literature from this period often mentions the benefits of eating bamboo shoots. An important literature from Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) has exclusive chapter briefing various medicinal and nutritional benefits of bamboo shoots.
Nutritional Value of Bamboo Shoots
Bamboo shoots can satisfy your taste buds and improve your health in the process.
High in dietary fibre
Bamboo shoots are good source of dietary fibres and hence are very beneficial for people who want to lose weight.
Low in calories
Another score for this super food! One serving of bamboo shoots contains only half a gram fat and 13 calories but 2 grams of protein.
Excellent source of minerals
Bamboo shoots are an excellent source of minerals like potassium and it helps to control blood pressure.
Enriched with Phytochemicals
Phytochemicals are natural substances that help to fight various diseases. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
How to Eat Bamboo Shoots
In Japan, bamboo shoots are considered as the king of forest vegetables. It is a common ingredient that is widely used in many Asian cuisines. In Assamese cuisine, bamboo shoots are called khoricha and it is one of our signature dishes. It is believed that the people who migrated to Assam before the last millennium from the heartland of South Asia brought this food habit . You go to any discussion on Assamese food, the talk is incomplete without mentioning kharicha. Khoricha can be eaten alone as a pickle, with mashed potatoes, boiled fish or with meat. The choice is yours!!
Recipe of Bamboo Shoots Pickle
- 2 young sprouts of bamboo
- Half a cup lemon juice
- Salt, according to taste
- 1. Grate the bamboo shoots.
- 2. Soak the whole grated bamboo shoots in water with lemon juice atleast for 3 hours.
- 3. Drain the water and your kharicha is ready.
- 4. Keep it in air dry container and add some salt and chili (optional).
- 5. Do not forget to keep the container in sun once a week.
- This pickle can be added to already cooked items like lentils, fish and chicken to enhance the taste.