Young, edible shoots are rich in vitamins and amino acids
Why do people like eating the bamboo shoot? Is it because of the medicinal value or the flavour? "Both," says Veena Arora, consultant chef at Spice Route, The Imperial, New Delhi.
The young shoots of an edible species of bamboo, which are plucked as soon as they poke out of the ground, are said to be rich in vitamins, cellulose and amino acids. They are also a good source of fibres, carbohydrates, vegetable fat and proteins. The Japanese believe that the antioxidant properties of the pulverised bamboo bark prevent bacterial growth. Thus, it is commonly used as a food preservative in the country.
In Indonesia, bamboo species are used for medicinal purposes, such as controlling internal bleeding. In many parts of the country, nursing mothers consume bamboo soup to enhance milk production.
Bamboo shoots are crunchy and slightly sweet tasting. For a Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese, Thai or Nepalese, bamboo shoot is the staple diet. In Nepal, each household consumes about 46 stems per year. Taiwan consumes 80,000 tonnes of bamboo shoots annually, constituting a us $50 industry.
In the Northeast region of India, no dish is complete without a dash of bamboo shoot. It is what achar is to North India. This explains why nearly every home in the Northeast has bamboo groves in their garden. "It is a multipurpose plant. From cradle to grave, bamboo is part of our life," says Dinesh, who makes a living by weaving bamboo baskets, while his wife sells fermented bamboo shoots in the local market. "Eating bamboo shoot makes us strong and tough," says Dinesh's wife. She may have no clue as to what property of bamboo shoot strengthens her, but the belief is more than enough for her.
Hoihnu Hauzel is a journalist with the Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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