Monday, July 22, 2024
Food

Comfort food for Nepalese: Gundruk

Have you ever wondered what Gundruk is called in English? It’s pickled Leafy Vegetable, a fermented leafy green, famous for its sour tangy flavor, Gundruk is one of the most loved dishes by Nepalese around the world and is also the national dish of the country. I still remember my first time trying Gundruk in the Kathmandu valley and how I was amazed by its rich flavors and how addicted I was towards it.

How to Prepare Gundruk

You must be curious about exploring how Gundruk is produced now that you are aware of its English name. Well, it’s usually composed of green leafy vegetables like cauliflower, radish, mustard, and others. After being crushed with a stone and cleaned with warm water, the leafy greens are stored in an airtight container in a dark area for four to five days. After that, they are dried in the sun until crispy; as a result, their shelf life is extended to more than a year; all you need to do is keep them away from moisture. It is still prepared at home in rural areas and in urban areas most of the people buy it from the shops. It is mostly preferred to be eaten in the winters to warm ourselves from the harsh winters of Kathmandu.

Gundruk can be prepared in various forms based on your preference and mood. If you’re craving soup, you can make Gundruk soup with potatoes and soybeans. This particular preparation is a comforting favorite among Nepalese people. Another option is Gundruk ko achar, which is pickled Gundruk. To make this, you add onions, spices, and mustard oil. It can be enjoyed as a delightful side dish. Regardless of how you choose to cook it, Gundruk always turns into something tasty that will remind you of home.

Janapnese Gundruk

Japan also has a similar dish called ‘Takana-zuke,’ which is made using Mustard leaves, specifically the Brassica Juncea type. In Japan, Takana is enjoyed in its pickled form due to its rich flavor and slight bitterness. Interestingly, around 2000 tons of gundruk are produced in Nepal each year. It’s not only famous in Nepal but also in certain parts of India, Bhutan, and other countries. It’s popularity stems from the fact that people can still enjoy leafy vegetables even when they are not readily available. 

Origin of Gundruk

Gundruk, a fermented vegetable dish, was first created in Kirtipur during King Prithvi Narayan Shah’s rule. When food became scarce, the people preserved their vegetables by fermenting them, creating Gundruk. It became a crucial food source during tough times, especially for the Army during wars. This invention demonstrates how the Kirtipur people cleverly used their local resources to meet their needs.

Benefits of Gundruk

Gundruk packs a punch with its delectable taste and impressive health benefits. It’s a traditional dish highly valued by breastfeeding mothers as it boosts the quality of their milk. Moreover, it helps maintain digestive health by promoting a healthy gut. Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, gundruk is a potent ally against cancer and heart disease, potentially reducing their risk.

Conclusion

Gundruk, for Nepalese, is more than just food; it’s an emotion. For the ones living abroad, it is a comforting food that evokes a sense of home. It is a food that can be prepared in various forms and enjoyed at any time. Gundruk has gained immense popularity not only within Nepal but also internationally. Its ease of preparation and ability to be enjoyed anywhere, anytime have contributed to its widespread recognition. People from all corners of the world have embraced this delightful dish. It has become a source of income for some individuals as its demand continues to grow. Moreover, Gundruk has become a symbol of identity and appreciation for those who value its unique taste and cultural significance.

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