I was first introduced to bamboo shoots by my mother as a pickle. She used to buy the fresh bamboo shoots and make a simple pickle out of mustard oil, mustard seeds, and a little salt. A quick recipe of the Bamboo Shoots pickle is at the bottom. Then once, when as a family we visited Gangtok, my father bought a bottle of bamboo shoots stored in chilly oil. This was another version of the bamboo shoot pickle which we all liked.
Pickled bamboo shoots were the only version that I had seen or eaten until I went to college and had a chance to stay with a Naga (North-East Indian) roomie. They have many different ingredients and herbs that they cook with which I hadn’t eaten before. Seeing her cook I got to know how much bamboo shoots are part of their cooking. All thanks to her, I got a taste of the Naga cuisine and my all time favorite is the way they cook pork with bamboo shoots. It is yum! though it’s kind of an acquired taste.
When I started exploring my cooking skills with bamboo shoots, I realized that I liked cooking with them and not just having it like a pickle. At my place, we get finely shredded tender bamboo shoots that have been kept in water, squeezed out and salted. After buying, I dry heat them over a gas top in a wok/kadhai for any possible moisture as it might spoil the shoots. Then I put them in glass bottles and pour a lot of mustard oil, add some chilly flakes and salt. I preserve and use these bamboo shoots to add a different flavor in chicken, barbati (yard long beans) and also in salads.
Quick recipe of bamboo shoots pickle:
Heat a wok or a kadhai and pour approximately 3-4 tbsp of mustard oil for approximately 250gms of raw bamboo shoot. When the oil heats up add a tsp of mustard seeds. Let them crackle, and then add a little turmeric, enough to give the shoots a yellowish tinge. Add some salt to taste and switch off the burner. Stir and mix the shoots well in the wok/kadhai. Let it cool and store in a glass bottle.