These are made by fermenting for a short period, then drying the result. It's an interesting twist that should achieve the digestive benefits of fermentation, but instead of preserving it by salt and cold temperature, it is preserved by drying.
Gundruk is done with leafy greens, and Sinki is a similar process done with radish roots.
Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the preparation of Gundruk:
"In the months of October and November, during the harvest of the first broad mustard, mustard green, radish and cauliflower leaves, large quantities of leaves accumulate — much more than can be consumed fresh. These leaves are allowed to wilt for one or two days and then shredded with a knife or sickle. Not only the leaves of the radish, the roots are also used to make a better quality gundruk. The roots of radish can be mixed with the leaves and smashed together. When it is smashed, care should be taken not to make pieces too small. In mountainous regions of central part of Nepal, the smashed radish and leaves are put into an earthenwares, compressed, and the mouth of container is closed tightly. It is then buried in safe and sunny place. It may be placed in an open place. After a few days, the acidity can be tasted or when it is ready, it can readily be known from its smell as well. It is then dried in sunlight. Thus made gundruk is more tasty, more flavorous and more acidic."
As another interesting twist, Sinki is sometimes stored and used without drying by mixing it with spices and tightly sealing it up.
I love reading about different cultural food traditions, especially with fermentation. I have noticed that more and more, health doctors are talking about the benefits of spicy foods like radish, garlic, chile, and horseradish in killing low level virii, fungal infections, and other various health problems.
Cool! I had gundruk soup in Sikkim last year and decided to try it.
So I asked the Nepali lady who was working near here and she said it's easy, sure, she'd show me how, but then I couldn't manage to get radish leaves, which she said was necessary. Then I saw online that it can be made with various brassica leaves, so I decided to just wing it with my profuse mustard greens. I washed them, ripped them up, laid them out in the sun to wilt, and then pressed them into a jar. Then I tried it with some arugula, and some Lepidium latifolium, an edible wild plant around here. Then I asked a Nepali student of mine, and she asked her mom and said "Oh no, you can't do it in a jar, you have to do it in a plastic bag wrapped in blankets!" Ennnnyway, I went ahead and dried them all. They turned very dark brown or black on drying, unlike the gundruk soup I'd had, but they were kind of a nice soup base. Not as good as what I'd had though. The mustard greens tasted the best as soup base; the arugula was too sharp both fresh and as gundruk and I never finished it. The Lepidium latifolium required some pre-processing to get rid of the bitterness, and ended up tasting like nori. I thought of crumbling it with roasted sesame seeds and using as a sprinkle.
Next batch, I went off on my own tangent. I decided to use the mustard greens, add some dill, and some salt, because, well, you know, it's a lactic-acid ferment so,... So I washed the mustard greens, ripped them up and wilted them in the sun, jammed them in a jar with dill and a little salt, and set the jar on a high shelf in my kitchen to ferment. After a week it was really delicious. I kept it cool because it was winter, and it made a GREAT sandwich filling, just like that on its own or with the bread toasted and buttered. It was a brilliant super healthy instant meal all winter.
Now if only the mustard greens in my greenhouse this autumn hadn't bolted at 4 inches and then gotten aphids!
But now this autumn, my new fermentation love is salted lemons, based on things I saw online about Moroccan lemons. Ooh! Another fabulous ferment to help me get through the winter!
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
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