Thursday, March 14, 2013

Andhra Adventures IX: Araku Valley Bamboo Chicken

Travel to a destination cannot be complete without the local food, and every place no matter how small or big has a local delicacy hidden its own cuisine. Most of the times ingredients remain the same but it’s the process that makes all the difference, so in Araku Valley tribal communities cook chicken inside the hollow of a bamboo without using any oil or water.

They take the small raw chicken pieces, marinate it with ginger heavy masala and stuff it inside the bamboo that is open from one side and close the open end by stuffing the Sal leaves, called Adda leaves locally.  This bamboo is now put on coal fire and turned a few times so that the heat spreads out evenly. Note that no oil or water is used in this cooking. It is only the heat passing through he burning bamboo that cooks the food inside. Once the bamboo is burnt black, it is an indication that chicken is done. Open the bamboo, remove the Sal leaves and the chicken is ready to be savored. Traditionally, It is served again on a Sal leave.

This is a trademark delicacy of the tribal communities of Araku valley and only they are allowed to cook using the Bamboo. It is not served in restaurants, though they will arrange to bring it for you from the local sellers. You will find small roadside stalls made of bamboo, managed mostly by women with green bamboos standing, masalas or spices scattered and a small coal chulha or stove at the back. I was told that during peak season people have to wait for hours before they can get the dish, such is the popularity that it enjoys. I could not figure out if the Government has put a restriction on others making the dish, but if they have, it is definitely a good move and is helping a lot of local population reap the benefits of the tourism economy.

My only grouse is that being a vegetarian I could not enjoy the bamboo cooking. I tried asking them if they can make anything vegetarian using the same method, but no one showed any enthusiasm at the suggestion. They only smiled and I tried to guess the taste from the faces of those who were eating.

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