Tender Bamboo Shoots Side Dish(Keerla chakko/sukke)

Tender Bamboo Shoots Side Dish(Keerla chakko/sukke)

Monsoon rains bring spikes of tender bamboo shoots. About 3-4 year old bamboos have a new shoot arising from the underneath root-system above the ground. Within a few weeks these bamboo shoots grow a few feet in length above the ground. Tender bamboo shoots within 2-3 feet in length are edible & are eaten as a vegetable.  When a young, cone-shaped new bamboo shoot just appears above the ground surface, it is chopped off from its root attachment, generally using a spade. It is consumed as a delicacy. Some of important edible species widely prevelent are Bambusa bambos, Bambusa tulda, B. polymorpha, B. balcooa, Dendrocalamus hemiltonii, D. gigentius, Melocanna baccifera, Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis.

On its exterior, bamboo shoot has several layers of tough casing of leaves, firmly wrapped around its central cream-white heart which is the edible portion of bamboo shoot. It is crunchy in texture, and has mild yet distinctive flavor. Once boiled and cured, it however, acquires almost a neutral taste.

Fresh bamboo shoots are crunchy, even after cooking. Pickled bamboos get soft with time but still remain chewy. Young, tender shoots are a seasonal delicacy in East Asian regions, & south east asian countries.

In Karnataka, bamboo shoots are used as a special dish during the monsoons (due to seasonal availability). It goes by the name kanile or 'kalale in Kannada. And are known as kirlu in Konkani.

Konkani cuisine includes various delicacies using fresh bamboo shoots. Tender bamboo shoots once are chopped off have a very limited shelf life. They start to go bad within 4-6 days. Hence, they are pickled/cured to be used throughout the year. 

Fresh tender bamboo shoots are available only for the first few months of monsoon every year. And the only way to have ample of them throughout the year is to preserve them by curing/pickling. Season’s glut is thus preserved in brine for years to come.

Fresh bamboo shoots have to be consumed only on cooking or on pickling. You can’t & shouldn’t eat them raw. Raw bamboo shoots contain (cyanogenic glycosides), natural toxins. Cooking, pickling destroys these toxins.

Even before you cook fresh bamboos you have to keep pieces of bamboo shoots soaked in water for two to three days, where the water is drained and replenished with fresh water each day to extricate and remove toxins. 

Bamboo shoots are edible when they’re young. They harden as they mature. Tender bamboo shoots are commonly sold in the local markets during the months of June to September when young bamboo shoots sprout.

Tender bamboo shoots that are collected, are defoliated, soaked in water for 2-3 days, then are boiled in water to remove its bitter taste after which it is ready for consumption, to go into a dish. The water used to cook fresh bamboo is discarded as it tastes bitter & unpleasant. These tender fresh bamboo shoots are then used in cooking.

These fresh tender bamboo shoot pieces are then used to make various dishes like:

1. keerla sukke/chakko (bamboo shoots in a spicy coconut masala), 

2. keerla ambade ghashi (a coconut based curry with bamboos and hog plums),

3. kirla ghashi with mugu (bamboos in a spicy coconut curry with green gram).

Konkani cuisine has it's set of tender bamboo shoot delicacies.

Pickled tender bamboo shoots are used to prepare

1. kirla bajo (bamboo fritters)

2. kirla sanna polo (spicy rice based pancakes with bamboo shoots)

3. keerla fry (shallow fried pickled bamboos)

4. keerla phodi (spicy pan fried bamboos),

5. suyee ghashi (coconut based curry) from the pickled bamboo shoots.

Some people who taste fresh, cooked bamboo shoots for the first time may feel an unpleasant taste/smell. But proper cooking removes the unpleasant taste & smell.

Recipe to make kirla sukke/chakko:


2 cups of finely chopped, fresh, tender bamboo shoot 
3/4 cup grated coconut
4 – 5 dried red chillies
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon urad dal
1 tablespoon tamarind/3-4 Indian hog plums
1/2 teaspoon jaggery
2 tablespoons of oil
1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1 leaflet of curry leaves
Salt to taste

Preparation time: 60 minutes

Serves: 4

Preparation Method:

Prepping the bamboos:

1. The fresh, tender bamboo shoots sold in the market are peeled to remove the outer, thick layers until you reach the soft tender layer that is completely white. The remaining inner, completely white portion of the the bamboo shoot is edible. 

The outer layers are discarded.

2. The inner, tender bamboo shoots are then finely chopped. Keep them in water for two days. Change the water daily. Use these bamboo shoots on the third day to prepare keerla chakko.

Only the soft, inner, thin layers of bamboo are used to make this dish. All the outer, thick, layers of the bamboo are peeled off and thrown away.

3. Drain all the water, pressure cook the chopped bamboo shoot with salt and enough water (1 cup) for one whistle. The fresh bamboo shoots remain crunchy even after cooking.

The bamboo pieces change a little in colour. They turn from white to off-white.

4. After cooking the bamboo shoots, drain all the water that was used to cook them in and keep the cooked bamboo shoot pieces aside.

Preparing the masala:

5. Heat up a frying pan, add few drops of oil, urad dal, coriander seeds and red chillies. Fry them until the urad dal starts to brown and you get the aroma of fried coriander seeds, red chillies and urad dal.

6. Once they cool, grind them with coconut, salt, jaggery and tamarind into a smooth paste, using as little water as possible. 

Jaggery is added for taste so adjust the quantity you add according to your taste. You can even skip it if you want the side dish to be completely spicy. If your using Indian hog plum (ambado in Konkani) then you can emit tamarind while grinding as the sourness comes from the hog plum.

7. Heat a cooking pan, add remaining oil, mustard. Once the mustard starts popping, add urad dal, few pieces of red chilli, curry leaves and saute until the urad dal starts to brown.

8. Then add the ground masala and simmer for a minute or two. If you are using Indian hog plum instead of tamarind, then add them along with the ground masala. 

9. Once the masala gets a little dry, add the cooked bamboo shoots and simmer until it gets very dry.

10. Remove off heat and serve hot with rice.

Find more Konkani cuisine side dishes here

Tags: bamboo shoots, side dish, konkani dish, konkani recipe, spicy, vegetarian, lunch, dinner, keerla, keerlu, Konkani recipe, Konkani dish, Konkani cuisine, Udupi cuisine, Mangalore food, Konkani food.