Health and nutrition experts say that bamboo shoots have been one of the most underrated food items in the country. Meanwhile, MR Valsala, who has been growing and cooking bamboo shoots vows that these highly nutritious food item can be the perfect replacement for your favourite chicken dishes. Not just the curry, you could replicate the same taste, flavour and aroma of chicken fry, roast and cutlets using bamboo shoot. Besides, tasty pickles, payasam (dessert) and soups too could be prepared with it.
Bamboo shoots are a staple in most North East Indian states. Now, the bamboo shoots are becoming popular in Kerala too for its amazing health benefits. Moreover, people have begun growing edible bamboo here. As it has great commercial value, growing edible bamboo could bring in a decent income too.
Dr. TK Kunjamu, associate director of forest research department at the Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur says that a genus called the dendrocalamus is fit for consumption. Though most of these varieties have their origin in the north eastern part of the country, they would grow amazingly in the tropical climate of Kerala.
Meanwhile, the asper varieties are the star among the bamboo. Anamula, which is the local variety, has great commercial value as it fetches fabulous income. Moreover, they are edible too and could be included in the diet. Though shoots of most variety of bamboos could be eaten, they have to be carefully cooked to make it edible.
Careful while cooking
It is best to harvest the bamboo shoots when they are only a foot tall. Though edible, eating them as it is may not be the ideal way. Valsala says it is better to cut the bamboo shoot into small pieces and boil them for at least 10 minutes before preparing various dishes with it. She adds that the same ingredients of chicken or meat dishes could be used to prepare bamboo shoot dishes too.
Usually, the shoots begin to appear during the months of June and July. So, if you could harvest the shoots then, it could be stored and used later. You could use it for longer duration if they are pickled.
D Sajikumar, deputy conservator of forest of the Social Forestry department in Malappuram says at least one bamboo should be grown at every household to fight life style diseases. It is healthier to include the shoots in your diet occasionally, if not daily. As they contain low amount of carbohydrates and sugar, bamboo shoots are excellent for diabetes patients. Meanwhile, the shoots that are rich in minerals and other essential nutrients would prevent memory loss in old people that happens due to loss of potassium. Besides, experts say that bamboo shoots contain healthy fibers too.
100 grams of bamboo shoot contains 27 calories energy, 15 grams vitamins, 5.2 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams sugar, 3 grams fat, 5.33 grams potassium, 0.5 ml iron, 0.6 grams phosphorous and 1.1 mg zinc.
Easy to maintain
PKV Noor who built a bio diversity park called Noor Lake at Pachattiri in Tirur, Malappuram says that bamboos could be easily grown and maintained. He has grown an incredible bamboo forest by planting more than fifty varieties of bamboo in 12 acres of land. The bamboos saplings could be planted in the regular way and they would grow even without nourishing it with manure. The bamboos should be allowed to grow naturally. However, they require occasional care at least for the first two years.
Noor had collected the saplings with the help of the forest department and the Kerala Forest Research Center. The first saplings would become manure in five years. The shoots that grow later are used for consumption. Noor adds that bamboo shoot dishes have now become a regular item on his dining table.