The North-East has been blessed with a phenomenal forest cover that has an abundance of natural resources. Tripura, one of the seven sisters, is the 3rd smallest state of India which covers an area of 10,486 square km. The state is rich in bamboo and the tribals have utilised these bamboos in their daily lives. A lot of things are made from bamboo and bamboo shoots have become their favourite ingredient when it comes to food as a source of dietary fibre and various other nutrients. Let us see how the tribals of Tripura consume bamboo shoots.
The forests in Tripura are equipped with different types of bamboo which are still used, keeping in mind their health benefits. At least 19 species of bamboos are commonly found in the state. In Tripura’s forests, bamboo shoots are found from the month of May to September and people go to pick up bamboo shoots from their surrounding forest. These bamboo shoots act as a source of income for the people of Tripura as they are in high demand in the market for being organic.
Gradually, the state of Tripura is experiencing a rise in the population that has destroyed the forests area of the state. The forest cover is getting smaller each year to provide wood for houses and latex for rubber farming by big companies. Bamboo shoots have now become less accessible to the people which were once easily available. Kalangshi is one such of type of bamboo which was readily available 10 to 15 years ago. Exploitation and less knowledge about these bamboos have led to the destruction of natural resources. Once commonly used in households, today people have little or no information about the same.
Bamboo shoots form an indispensable part of several traditional speciality dishes in Tripura, such as chakhwi aawanduru, hontalia, godok, mosodeng, and more. Chakhwi is made by adding lemon leaves, pulses, green chilli, salt, pork if desired, and rice powder. It takes thirty minutes of cooking, and when made, Chakhwi is soft and a mouth-watering dish.
Bamboos are a huge part of the everyday life of the indigenous people of Tripura due to their enormous utility as traditional food and raw materials. The need of the hour is to create awareness among the people about their nutritional health benefits so that they are widely accepted, preserved, and conserved for future generations.
About the author: Samir Debbarma lives in the Khowai district of Tripura. He has finished his graduation and is currently looking for a job in the government. His dream is to become a police officer. In his free time, he likes listening to Hindi classical music and practice art.