Tag Archives: India

Democratising Bamboo

The International Bamboo Conclave is on this weekend (22-23 Feb, 2014). Lucky you if you’re in Bangalore (India). Head out to the University of Agricultural Sciences.

The gathering provides a forum to promote bamboo for integrated development. There are technical sessions and an exhibition of products. Experts have gathered to discuss policy issues, innovative technologies, its use in buildings, furniture, handicrafts and other cottage industries, skill development in the bamboo sector, and global trends.

India is the second largest producer of bamboo in the world, next to China. India has 128 bamboo species belonging to 18 genera. They make up 12.8 per cent of the total forest area in India.

democratic bambooThe conclave brings to light why growing bamboo makes socio-economic sense. Architect and member of the Bamboo Society of India, Neelam Manjunath says “housing for the poor should be seriously thought over, as bamboo can be the best substitute to concrete. It can replace 70 per cent of steel and wood used in construction, and bring down the costs by nearly 40 per cent.”

For all the potential benefits, India lags in utilising bamboo. Apparently it all started with the British calling it the ‘poor man’s timber.’ Current government policies are not helping either. Bamboo is classified as timber in many states and permits are needed to harvest it. The Indian Forest Act effectively provides the forest department a monopoly over bamboo and creates opportunities for corruption and harassment.

Bamboo has the potential to generate economic wealth – sustainable and equitable development. Imagine if bamboo was put in the hands of the local people? To grow, to harvest and to add value? People determining and influencing their own future? Sounds democratic to me. What do you think?


Bamboo on the Internet for January 2014 – my picks

bamboo portable laptop deskCult of Mac reviews the bamboo AirDesk – A laptop tray/portable laptop desk with a mouse pad, and slot for your iPhone or iPad mini.  Why only Macs?

The AirDesk would match the very stylish Chisel iPhone dock. Reviewed by Into Mobile and available for iPhone 4 and 5. Sigh (why only Macs?).

No such thing as organic bamboo fabric? This reminds me to further investigate bamboo textiles.

gucci bamboo heelsDid you like the Gucci bags with bamboo handles featured in the September version of this post? Now you can get bamboo heels to match. At A$650 a pair, much less expensive than the bag. Fashion Foie Gras described them as ” rather conservative and definitely have a party going on there from the back.”

The ever-increasing demand for PVC plastic kites is sounding a death knell for the craft of handmade kites in Hyderabad, India, according to the The Hindu.

bamboo2,500 bamboo strips dating from 305 BC, unearthed from an illegal tomb excavation in China, were donated to, and restored by, the Tsinghua University in Beijing. 21 of the strips are an elaborate multiplication matrix.

bambooMore innovative architecture from Designboom: bamboo sleeping units for an orphanage near the Thai-Burmese border. For more images and details, click on the image.

Still more from Designboom: Tranquillity in the heart of a metropolis. No, it’s not made of bamboo, rather, bamboo provides shade and shadow-play in an otherwise linear building. yutaka-kawahara-kaikouin-nenbutsudo-temple-designboom-44

More tranquillity (secular). (And more Designboom) What particular architectural elements achieve serenity for this cafe in Vietnam? Water? Bamboo? The curves? bamboo

Bamboo shoot recipe – Naga fish and bamboo shoot curry

bamboo shootsThe bamboo shooting is nearly over here. After the initial monsoonal surge, the weather has settled into a pattern of showers rather than tropical downpours.  Here is the second of Liya‘s Primal and Paleo-friendly bamboo shoot recipes, for the last bamboo shoots of the season.

Bamboo shoot is one of the underrated ingredients which add sparkles to Indian dishes yet remain least used in most parts of India. However, inhabitants of north east India, especially the Nagas, have developed a special love for this exotic ingredient. No wonder you’ll hardly come across a Naga curry or chutney without bamboo shoots in them and their fish curry is not an exception as well.

Every Naga household has their own secret recipe to cook this classic dish but all these versions are unified by one dominant ingredient – bamboo shoots or ‘bastenga’ as they are called in Nagamese. The tender, delicate essence of the bamboo shoots receives a zesty complement of the Indian spices, thus making the dish shine. But it’s the pungent aroma of the mustard oil which ties up the flavours together and adds an amazing depth to the dish. But don’t let the long list of ingredients freak you out! This dish is unassumingly simple to cook and could be the ideal choice when you are busy or too lazy to spend hours in the kitchen. Simply cook all the ingredients together and you are ready to enjoy a flavoursome curry for your dinner.

bamboo shoot recipeNaga fish and bamboo shoot curry

Serves: 8-10


For the curry:

  • 1 kg Rohu or any white fish, cut into medium pieces
  • 1 cup fresh bamboo shoots, shredded (you may also substitute it with canned bamboo shoots)
  • 1 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 garlic pod, cloves separated, peeled and crushed
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 5 green chillies, halved longitudinally
  • 500 ml water
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp Mustard oil

To marinate:

  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • Coconut oil, to shallow fry


  • Add all the marinating ingredients into a large bowl and stir them all together to mix well.
  • Lay out the fish pieces into the bowl and rub the spice mixture all over the fish; set them aside for an hour to marinate.
  • Drizzle a lashing of vegetable oil into a skillet and heat it over moderate flame.
  • Place the fish onto the skillet and cook them, a couple of minutes per side, until they brown evenly on both sides; drain them out onto a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Heat the mustard oil in a casserole dish until its raw smell disappears.
  • Throw in the onion chunks and sauté for 5-10 minutes or until they caramelize.
  • Stir in the tomatoes and sprinkle the spices on top.
  • Stir them all together and throw in the bamboo shoots, followed by a splash of water.
  • Place a lid on top and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Continue to boil for 2-3 minutes and reduce it to a simmer.
  • Simmer for 10-15 minutes and lower the fried fish carefully into the simmering curry.
  • Scatter the chopped shallots on top and cook further for another 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
  • Remove from heat and let it rest, covered for another 10 minutes.
  • Serve hot with Cauliflower rice (or steamed white rice) and fresh salad.

Bamboo shoot recipe – Prawn and bamboo shoots in coconut curry

I asked Liya Das for some Primal and Paleo-friendly Indian bamboo shoot recipes. Here is the first one: 

Special guest post from Liya

Do you have a special corner for spicy food? If yes, then Goan food is bound to blow your mind away! Goa, a small state in the west coast of India is synonymous to coconut, spices and seafood. So when these aspects come together in one single dish, the outcome is nothing short of magic. Bamboo shoots make an interesting addition to the entire ensemble as well and turn this Goan curry into an ultimate gastronomic indulgence.

While tinned bamboo shoots can be used in this dish, but nothing compares to the crunchiness and delicate flavours of the fresh shoots. The narrower shoots are packed with maximum flavours and when not processed properly, they can ruin a dish with their bitterness. So make sure to peel off the hard, outer layers and soak the tender part in water overnight to get rid of any unpleasant flavors. However, if you can’t wait to enjoy your bamboo shoots, boil them in salted water, drain and soak them in fresh, cold water for at least half an hour before using.

Once processed properly, the bamboo shoots are ready to blend with the spicy flavors to please your taste buds. The coconut milk mellow out the spiciness to some extent and teams up with the marine flavors of the prawns to create mouth-watering result.

So run off to the recipe to taste a slice of India with this classic Indian curry.

Prawn and bamboo shoots in coconut curry

bamboo shoots, recipeServes: 4-6

For the spice paste:

  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4-7 cloves
  • 1 cm cinnamon stick
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 4-6 dried red chilies
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

For the curry:

  • 450 g prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • One large pinch salt
  • 3 medium fresh bamboo shoots, diced
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp dried coconut
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • Few fresh curry leaves


  • To marinate, sprinkle the ground turmeric as well as a dash of salt onto the prawns and stir them all together until well coated; set aside to marinate for half an hour.
  • Meanwhile, toss all the spices for the paste into a dry, hot skillet and fry for several minutes until they start spluttering and give out a spicy aroma.
  • Tip them into a blender along with rest of the paste ingredients and pulse them into a smooth paste; set aside until necessary.
  • For the curry, heat coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and throw in the chilies as well as onions.
  • Saute for a while until they soften and stir in the dried coconut.
  • Scatter the curry leaves on top and saute over moderate heat for another 3-4 minutes or until the onion caramelise and the coconut gives out its characteristic aroma.
  • Stir in the tomato chunks and cook for another 5 minutes, while stirring often.
  • Scrape out the prepared spice paste into the pot along with few splashes of water.
  • Stir them all together to mix well and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  • Continue to simmer for 5-7 minutes and throw in the chopped shoots.
  • Simmer further for another half an hour over slow flame, while stirring at times, until the mixture nearly dries out.
  • Pour in the coconut and bring it to near boiling temperature over moderately high heat while stirring often.
  • Dump the marinated prawns into the curry and reduce the heat back to low.
  • Simmer for 6-8 minutes or until the prawns turn pinkish, indicating that they are cooked through.
  • Turn off the heat and let the curry rest, covered, for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to develop further.
  • Serve hot with hot cauliflower rice (or just steamed rice) and have fun!



Bamboo on the Internet for November – my picks


Bali mansion

  • For bamboo buildings on a grand scale, Bali is already famous for the Green School.  Near the Green School is Green Village. The photo here is one example of the hand-constructed homes built of bamboo with outstanding attention to detail. Follow the link for some breathtaking photos on the Green Village website.
  • Jamaica is looking to resuscitate the bamboo industry. With approximately 106,000 acres of bamboo, Jamaica is one of 38 countries with commercially viable stocks of bamboo that are members of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR). The INBAR website is a good source of information for anyone with more than a passing interest in bamboo.
  • If you find yourself in Jamaica, you might enjoy a river trip on a bamboo raft.
  • bamboo bridge

    A bridge for the people – not their elected representatives

    The residents of remote village in Bihar, India, have built their own makeshift bamboo bridge after waiting since 1985 for the government to build a concrete bridge for them. Elected members are barred from using the bridge.

  • Most bamboo flowers and seeds rarely. In the south of Burma, the unusual event is being blamed for expected food shortages. Villagers say that when bamboo flowers and produces seed it attracts swarms of rats. The sudden proliferation of food causes the rats to multiply rapidly. When the bamboo seeds are depleted, the rats then consume the villagers’ rice crops.
  • bamboo broom

    Bamboo broom

    As autumn approaches in the northern hemisphere, Weather Girl laments the ubiquitous leaf blower and expounds the virtues of the humble bamboo rake, and ex-pat Chris has visions of Harry Potter when he uses his bamboo broom in Tokyo.

  • Bamboo toothbrushes: environmentally friendly oral hygiene wrapped in feel-good social entrepreneurship – except for the nylon bristles. What I’d like is bamboo toothbrush with natural bristles.
  • Bamboo coffins: A local NGO in Mizoram, India, which helps in coordinating social functions and conducting funerals for poor families, have been providing free bamboo coffins to those who cannot afford the wooden ones.