For years, braving the scorching sun of the summer and cold wind of winter, Mrs. Shakhi Devi, 65 years has been selling ‘shoibum’ fermented bamboo shoot at a small roadside space of Bishnupur bazar, a small town located at a distance of 19 km southernward of Imphal. With the meagre income earned from selling shoibum, she maintains her family and sends her children to school.
Like fermented fish ‘Ngari’, Shoibum is a favourite Manipuri cuisine consumed by almost families since time immemorial. Man ipuris consume two types of fermented bamboo shoots – ‘shoibum’ and ‘Shoidon’. The new bamboo shoot locally known as ‘Ushoi’ is finely sliced and prepared as curry. Another variety of food obtained from the bamboo is the ‘Shoibum’ fermented sliced bamboo shoots. This provides one of the popular dishes of the Meiteis. The tender shoots of a very small variety of bamboo are chopped into pieces and then fermented to provide a food called ‘Shoidon’. Fermented bamboo shoots have lent unique flavours and a distinctive crunchy texture to traditional Asian dishes. In Manipur, bamboo shoot is consumed as fresh or fermented. Soibum is a good source of dietary fibre.
She collects fresh bamboo shoots from the nearby villages of Bishnupur and they are finely sliced and let fermented in a pot to provide a food ‘Shoibum’. Thereafter, she comes to Bishnupur bazar to sell them. By doing so, she has been managing her family for the last 30 years.
“All my children have now got matured fully. My eldest son has got a job in the central Government service while the other doing job in an outside private firm. I toiled whatever I could to support my family as well as studies of my children with the daily meagre income from selling Shoibum. My sons used to tell me to stop my Shoibum business and rather take rest at home as in view of my growing age. However, I turned down their request. I am now addicted myself to this business and It’s now almost impossible for me to avoid myself from this 30 years long business which has been the only source of survival of my family” she told Manipur Times in an interaction.