Mesu (Fermented Bamboo Shoots) Recipe

Use this tangy, sour fermented pickle as a snack or base of a curry, a tradition in the Himalayan foothills and northeast India.

| October 2019

Photo from Adobe Stock/Successo images

The use of mesu as a pickle and as the base of curries is a long tradition in the hills of Darjeeling and the state of Sikkim in north-east India. Made with fermented bamboo shoots, this very popular pickle has a tangy and sour taste that is hard to forget.

Region: India
Makes: 1 x 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cup) jar
Preparation: 20 minutes + 6 hours fermenting
Difficulty: Easy


  • 250 g (9 oz) blanched or tinned bamboo shoots
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds, dry-roasted
  • 1 teaspoon mustard oil
  • 1 teaspoon


  1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.
  2. Spoon into a sterilised jar. Cover the opening with a piece of muslin (cheesecloth), then secure the lid.
  3. Store in a cool dark place for at least 6 hours, until pickled to your liking; the fermented bamboo shoots will keep for up to 4 weeks. During this time, the flavour will keep getting stronger, and the shoots more tender.

Also from Lands of the Curry Leaf:

lands-of-the-curry-leafAcclaimed chef, author and TV presenter Peter Kuruvita shares over 100 vegetarian and vegan recipes that take us on a culinary journey of discovery through the subcontinent — from Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and his home country of Sri Lanka. All the dishes in this deeply personal collection, spiced with the flavours of Peter's life and travels, reflect the diversity of the regions, their legendary hospitality, their energy and excitement, extraordinary landscapes and rich history. Peter explores a goldmine of plant-based flavours in recipes for street foods; pulses and legumes; salads; dairy-based dishes; curries, stir-fries and stews; rice; soups; chutneys; and sauces. This book is a reflection of the changing dialogue about what we eat, as the world embraces the idea of a meal where flesh is not the main event.

Reprinted with permission from Lands of the Curry Leaf: A Vegetarian Food Journey from Sri Lanka to Nepal by Peter Kuruvita and published by Murdoch Books, 2019.



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