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Bamboo Rice Harvested Once In Many Years Is The Staple Food Of The Kuravar Tribe.

Bamboo rice, one of the staple food items of the Kuravar tribe is not only nutritious but is harvested once in many years, unlike rice and grains that are harvested every year. Adivasi Awaaz creator Kavi Priya, writes about this miracle rice in the following article.

Rice obtained from the flowering seeds of Bamboo; Image Source: Kavi Priya

The Kuravar tribe, known as the inhabitants of the Kurinji land have consumed bamboo rice, as their staple food for decades. Bamboo produces flowering seeds to populate at the end of its life cycle, without flowering annually like other plants. Those seeds that look like wheat are what we call bamboo rice. These seeds like rice, have a bran-like skin on top and seed inside. That is why it is called "bamboo rice".


The Miracle Bamboo Rice: What Is So Special?

A bamboo tree can live for forty to a hundred years. "Bamboo is a perennial grass, meaning that it lives on year after year, rather than dying off at the end of a year, the way annual grasses like wheat and corn do. Most varieties of bamboo live for a few decades, and some for even a century or more. All, or virtually all, bamboo species are monocarpic, which means that they flower once and then die. But this can take 50 or 60 or as much as 120 years, in the case of Phyllostachys bambusoides, for these bamboos to flower."(How long does bamboo live? - Bambu Batu). Hence, rice is derived from the flowering seeds of bamboo, after multiple years and decades. This is considered miracle rice by the Kuravars, as one has to wait at least forty years to derive them, as most bamboo plants take at least forty years to flower.


Where Does it Grow?

There are more than a thousand bamboo trees, and India has only a few varieties. Especially in places like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, the north-east and the Western Ghats, bamboo trees and bamboo rice are grown in large numbers. Our ancestors used to say that if we eat bamboo rice, "shaky old men would start jumping." They believed it to be highly nutritious for the body.

This rice has a slight red colour and looks like small beads. Generally, bamboo trees are grown in the mountains, so this rice is most used by the people living in the mountains and forests. The Kuravar tribe has a history of inhabiting the mountains and forests. Hence, bamboo and bamboo rice became important parts of their lifestyles.


Method of Cooking:

Soak the bamboo rice for at least two hours and then boil it in a pan on low flame. This bamboo rice can be eaten along with gravy, rasam and buttermilk. It is slightly sweet in taste and hence good for making sweet dishes. Instead of eating bamboo rice, it is easier to grind it into flour and eat it daily as porridge and idli/dosa. Various dishes can be prepared from bamboo rice

Cooked Bamboo Rice; Image Source: Kavi Priya

Nutrients Found:

Bamboo rice contains essential nutrients for the body like magnesium, copper, zinc, and riboflavin. It is believed to have the ability to reduce unwanted body fat. Bamboo rice was found to contain Calcium- 5 mg, Iron- 9.2 mg, Phosphorus- 18 mg, Calories- 160 (per cup), Carbohydrates- 34 grams, Carotene- 12 mg, Riboflavin- 36.3 mg, Vitamin B- 0.1 mg and Nicotinic acid- 0.03 mg (naturesutra.in). It can be cooked and eaten with foxtail Rice and millet. A small amount of this daily is believed to be very healthy for the body. It is said to be extremely helpful in neck and hip pain.


While bamboo rice has been found to be beneficial for cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, bone and dental health, vitamin requirements and protein requirements, it is yet to receive certification from any health professional. Hence, one needs to be cautious while including it in their daily food.


This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.

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