Whether its soup or pickle, Gundruk is always inviting and pleasant in taste. One can sense the hard work, endurance and efforts put by Himalayan people especially women to prepare Gundruk; an accommodating mineral source during the off-season when diet is mostly starch with infinitesimal quantity of minerals. Gundruk can’t be cooked and usually served as an appetiser in form of soup or pickle or as a side dish with the main course/vegetable.
Gundruk is an ideal example for effective utilisation of excess production of spinach, mustard, cauliflower and radish leaves during the harvest season. These leaves are collected, washed with water and then left in open space for 2-3 days to become dry and shrivelled. These dried leaves are chopped into moderate size pieces with knife or sickle and sometimes smashed along with radish roots as well. The smashed and shredded leaves are stored in seal tight container in warm place for at least 4 days for fermentation. When stored in earthenware pot for fermentation, lukewarm water is poured into the container till it covers all the leaves. It taste acidic when its ready, one can also recognised the extent of fermentation through smell. In the end, Gundruk is removed from the container and dried out in sunlight.
Similar to Gundruk, another fermented variety is Sinki prepared from radish tap roots. The process for fermentation to prepare Sinki is somewhat different from that of Gundruk. The radish with tap roots are broken down into small pieces in “Dhinki” and then stored in a hole dug down to 2-3 feet.
Initially a small fire is ignited to warm up the hole and when its sufficiently hot, fire is put off to line up the bamboo and straw at the bottom. The shredded radish is stuffed on top of the bamboo layer which is then covered by vegetation, rock, mud etc. to fabricate an impermeable barrier. On completion of bacterial curing which last for a month, final sun drying is carried out before consuming it.
If radish pickle is to be prepared then sun drying is not required instead it is directly mixed with spices and stored in container. We at Bamboo Retreat Hotel prepare our own “Gundruk” and “Sinki” from organic vegetables cultivated in our garden to serve the delicious, mouth-watering Potato-Gundruk Soup, radish pickle and various other Himalayan/Sikkimese cuisines to our guest.