Mesu (Fermented Bamboo Shoots) Recipe

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:

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.

Published on Oct 3, 2019


Inspiration for edible alchemy.