gundruk in the Burgh

gundruk suruwa
Gundruk suruwa is a soup made with fermented greens typical of Bhutanese cuisine

Over the past few months I’ve been getting to know a little bit about Pittsburgh’s refugee community, particularly the Bhutanese refugees who have been coming to Pittsburgh over the past several years.  But I always say, you don’t really know somebody until they cook for you. Food is a good way to get close to an unfamiliar culture, so… let’s eat!

A couple of weeks ago I made a special “climb” to Everest Restaurant (map) to sample some Bhutanese cuisine. The restaurant is right next to the Nepali market on Saw Mill Run Boulevard. The menu included many Indian (Punjabi) standards we’re all used to, but one of the dishes we tried was a very typical Bhutanese dish: a soup made with gundruk, which I had never had before. And like any chef, when you serve me something I’ve never seen or heard of before, YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION!

Gundruk is a combination of multiple fermented leafy greens traditional in Nepal, Bhutan, and even India. This vegetables are then used as an appetizer, a side dish, or in soups. Like many foods pickled and preserved in traditional cuisine, Gundruk is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals during the long winter months.

The restaurant owner, Rup Timsina, tells me that they are currently working on the menu to have broader appeal since right now they basically only cater to their community. I say don’t change it too much.

The soup, gundruk suruwa, is incredibly delicious! It’s full of flavor, different textures you wouldn’t think of having with just vegetables, almost like dried mushrooms and seaweed, nothing but umami. A spoonfull of gundruk suruwa and I was transported to a different world. I couldn’t get enough of it!