Those of you who are following the recent posts on this blog would have seen the references to the Facebook Food Bloggers Group of which I am a member, viz Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge , which has got us cooking from the varied cuisines of the States of India. Working our way alphabetically, we have reached Karnataka, the beautiful State which is now my home. From my experiences with this theme over the last few months, it was no surprise to find that there is no one Karnataka cuisine, but that each region of the State celebrates its ethnicity with its own favourite foods and its special methods of preparation. The Bamboo Shoot Curry that I selected as my contribution to August 2018’s rich theme is one such recipe, popular in Coorg or Kodagu and in Mangalore.
My partner for the month is Priya Iyer. Priya and I had a lengthy discussion on what ingredients to pick. Both of us wanted to cook with something special or unique to Karnataka. Priya suggested I used Bamboo Shoots and coconut as the two ‘secret’ ingredients which the members of the group would have to guess, once I posted the image of the dish on our group. The bamboo shoot curry was the result of this discussion.
Priya blogs at The Girl Next Door. Please visit her blog to see the well written recipes as well as her interesting notes on the exotic places she has travelled to. I suggested two ingredients for Priya, urad dhal and ginger so that she would have the options to select the main ingredients for the recipe. Have a look at this Karnataka Bonda Soup that she has prepared! It looks so delicious and easy to make too!
Preparing the Bamboo Shoot Curry (also known as Kalale, Kanile or Baimbale Kari) needs some patience, though it is not difficult. The actual curry is easy to make, while the preparation of the shoots for cooking can be a stumbling block if you have not used them as an ingredient before. In the recipe below I have tried to make this simple with step by step directions. Bamboo shoots are known to have a toxic content, and fermenting or boiling is carried out to expel the toxins as well as remove the bitter taste of the raw shoots.
The fresh bamboo shoots have a tough husk which can be peeled off without difficulty, and the bamboo sliced as required. I was lucky to find an online store, OnlineMangaloreStore which delivered the bamboo to my residence, already peeled and sliced into thick rounds. I then soaked for 72 hours as explained in the instructions below. Most recipes suggest that 48 hours of soaking should do, but after some research I decided to soak the shoots for an extra day before I sliced them into thin matchsticks and boiled them with turmeric. The online store was interesting, I was able to pick up quite a few items which I would normally have to scour the Mangalore Stores around for. I plan to get Breadfruit from them and try a curry out of that too.
My friends Kevin and Anirudh had dropped in the day the Bamboo Shoot Curry was made, and as Kevin is from Mangalore and a devoted foodie as well as being no stranger to the kitchen, I requested him to taste it. He felt that it lacked a certain tartness or sourness and suggested the addition of tamarind. I have to say it lifted the curry up a notch and has therefore found its way into the final recipe.
Coming to the food of Coorg, the cuisine is based on locally available ingredients and though new vegetable types have crept in, the popular traditional food comprises rice based dishes such as otti, nooputtu, kadumbuttu, and plain rice accompanied by rich curries made of pork, mutton or chicken and a variety of vegetable based curries such as bamboo shoot curry and those made using jackfruit, mushrooms, colocasia leaves, breadfruit and banana, depending on seasonal availability. Meat based recipes predominate.
I realised while reading up on the food here that it has ingredients more in common with India’s North East than any other part of the country. The Bamboo shoot curry for example, though prepared a little differently from the same in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Sikkim etc, is rarely found on the dining table in other parts of India.