Food

Band, baaja & bamboo rice

The bamboo journey: From fruit and flower to cooked rice. Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar   | Photo Credit: Ritu_Raj_Konwar;Ritu_Raj_Konwar - Ritu Raj Konwar

There is a wedding in the family and in the midst of all the work and merriment, food, of course, hogs centre stage. Thanks to a careful planning of daily menus by my cousin, we sample a variety of new and interesting food. Every day, at lunch, unusual millets are served —they are a healthier option to rice. I like them because, apart from health benefits, they also have a delicious al dente texture that adds to the overall taste.

New discoveries
At one of these lunches, there was bamboo rice. It was quite unlike anything I had eaten before. On enquiring from the many elders in the family, I received a wealth of information about it from my grandmother and her sisters . Apparently, the bamboo plant flowers after 12 years and these have in them the bamboo seeds. And this is what is referred to as bamboo rice.

There’s more and the remaining bits were filled in by an uncle and a foodie cousin. Bamboo blossoms are quite common in the North Eastern states of Nagaland and Mizoram.

The grains are cooked inside the hollow of a bamboo and eaten as a staple.

A bamboo story
A bamboo forest usually grows from a single bamboo. The new shoots grow from the root of a bamboo tree. The life span is about 40 years depending on the variety. When flowering occurs, it is widely believed that there is a change in the humidity or the composition of the soil. And that is not a good sign.

This is supposed to be a precursor of a natural disaster such as a drought. People here see as an indicator of depleting ground water level and think of it as a curse. After the production of seeds, the bamboo forest dies.

When bamboo forests die many pandas die too as it is their staple food.

The name bamboo rice is also given to a short-grain rice that is infused with bamboo juice. This practice is prevalent more in the West.

This imparts a green colour and that is very different. The bamboo rice goes very well with our South Indian curries, rasams and even curd. It is available in Tamil Nadu where it is called ‘moongil arisi’. It is cooked in the same manner as regular rice is cooked.

New recipes
Once I am back to my regular routine, I plan to try out this delicious carb and find other ways to up it’s taste quotient.

Many thanks to my cousin Vini for introducing me to a ‘new’ ingredient. You do learn something new every day now, don’t you?

Read more on Shanthini’s website, www.pinklemontree recipes.com

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 11:49:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/shanthini-rajkumar-stumbles-upon-the-merits-of-bamboo-rice-during-a-family-wedding/article6379684.ece

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