Monday, July 1, 2013

Miya Mikhri (Fermented Bamboo Shoots) with Pumpkin and Sponge Gourd

Bamboo shoot curry/Miya mikhri cooked in chicken stock with pumpkin and ridge gourd
The other day I was watching my favourite food show on Fox Traveller. It happened to be the one on Lao cuisine. There were quite a few ingredients similar to ours, particularly the herbs, the bamboo shoots, and the sticky rice. So today I made a dish using a combination that is not always used in our cuisine. The idea of the veggies came from this recipe-- Bamboo and yanang soup.
Most of the ingredients used in the dish
During this season, bamboo shoots are widely available and widely consumed. One popular dish we have is khari. This is thickened with rice flour and garnished with a herb called bahanda from the basil family.
Bahanda/Ocimum basilicum (photographed in my sister's garden in Guwahati)
Apart from bamboo shoots, the other vegetables that went in are pumpkin, and sponge gourd or angled gourd. We always use a thickening agent for bamboo shoot khari but not for vegetables like pumpkin, ash gourd, eggplants, papaya and other veggies that thicken when cooked. But the Lao dish had pumpkin as well as a thickener in the form a paste made of soaked sticky rice. I found that very interesting and recreated the dish in our Dimasa way.
The bamboo shoots were soaked overnight. This is a popular fermentation process. The shoots are soaked for a day or three days depending on how strong/sour you like it. This is again an acquired taste but soaking it overnight is fine with me. The recipe is given below.

Ingredients:

Freshly sliced bamboo shoots soaked overnight, about 400 grams
6-7 hot green chillies
4-5 fermented fish
500 ml chicken stock
2-3 cups of water
A small bowl of cubed pumpkin pieces
2 medium sponge gourd with the skin scraped off and cut into chunks
A bowl of leafy greens, optional (I used a bowl of pumpkin shoots)
About 3 tbsps of sticky rice soaked and ground to a paste
Alkali (about 3 tbsps) or soda bicarbonate (a quarter teaspoon)
Bahanda for the garnish
Salt to taste

Method:


  • Heat some water in a pan. When it comes to boiling point add the soaked shoots and boil for about ten minutes. Remove and drain.
  • In the same pan, heat 2 to 3 cups of water. Add the shoots. Score the chillies lengthwise and add to the pan. The chicken stock can go in now. Water can always be checked at a later stage. With thickeners, you usually need to add more water.
  • Add the remaining vegetables and let it cook for a few minutes before you add the alkali or soda bicarb (if using). You can also add the salt now.
  • By now the khari will begin to come together (and look good as well).
  • Add the fermented fish and lightly stir the dish. Stirring isn't an important feature in making khari.
  • When all the vegetables are cooked, add a little water to the rice paste and mix it into the dish. Once that is done, it needs to be removed from the heat.
  • Garnish the dish with sprigs and leaves of bahanda lightly bruised with your fingers so that the refreshing scent becomes stronger.


Fermented bamboo shoots are generally made with rice flour or teamed with vegetables such as the snake gourd and eggplants in our cuisine. I changed the combination after seeing that particular program. And I'm glad I tried it. It was delicious!

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