Preparing Dried Fermented Green Mustard (Gundruk): Indoor and Home Activity with Kids

In this article, I share my own style of preparing dried fermented green mustard (in Nepali: gundruk).

I involved my children (getting helping hands for bits of work) during various phases of this process. I want to make them active participants of human efforts of food preservation. I also hope that they become more confident in doing food preservation in practice. This makes them more resilient in case of various circumstances of unforeseeable future.

Basically, while preparing 'gundruk', fermentation and drying are two main processes involved.

When Nepali people say 'gundruk', they generally mean the dried fermented green mustard (Rayo ko Sag ko Gundruk).

The leaves of mustard, turnip, radish and cauliflower can also be used as a main ingredient of their own versions of 'gundruk'. If a 'gundruk' is made from radish leaves, they are called 'mula ko gundruk' (dried fermented radish leaves).

Please follow this article to learn how I prepare 'Rayo ko Sag ko Gundruk' at home.

1. Pick green mustard Leaves.

I visit my vegetable garden and pluck mature green mustard leaves (Rayo ko Sag) to prepare as 'gundruk'. I wash it thoroughly to remove any dirt that remains intact.

Fresh Green Mustard Leaves (Rayo ko Sag)
Fresh Green Mustard Leaves (Rayo ko Sag) for Preparing 'Rayo ko Gundruk'

2. Let it dry in the sun.

I spread the leaves to sun-dry for a day.

Drying Green Mustard Leaves in the Sunlight

During this process, I try my best to prevent atmospheric dust and dirt from other sources from attaching to the leaves.

3. Smash the leaves

I usually use traditional Nepali 'silauto and lohoro' to smash the leaves a bit.

4. Pack tight into air-tight container.

I pack the dried green mustard into an 'airtight' container. First, I pack the leaves using traditional Nepali 'belna', and pour a small amount of lukewarm water onto the top before closing the lid of the container.

This process is important for the desired fermentation of the leaves. The taste of the final product would be desirably sour and the colour would be yellow.

5. Put in Natural Heat

I keep the container in the sunlight for 7 days. Even if it is a cloudy day, the natural warmth works.

When I lived in a village in Nepal as a child, my mother used to keep such container in the warmth of animal manure. Of course, the container would be super airtight to prevent any seepage into it. In cold countries like Norway, you may try to make 'gundruk' indoors.

Preparing 'gundruk' in a jar

During these seven days, some fluid may spill out from the lid of the container. This is 'normal' as it is a sign that the fermentation process is going well.

6. Sun-dry

After 7 days, I open the lid and take the fermented leaves out. Then, I put the leaves to sun-dry for 2-3 days till they become crunchy (almost completely dry). This final product of brown and crunchy dried fermented green mustard leaves is called 'gundruk' in Nepali. Complete dryness is important before storing in the container because otherwise there is a chance of fungal growth in 'gundruk'.


My children avidly enjoyed the process (at least witnessing this at large and helping a bit) and the taste of 'gundruk-soup' itself. The embodied experience of gundruk-making and tasting as a soup added to the gravity of their knowledge (food science, food preservation, traditional knowledge, gastronomy) and skillset (preparing and cooking). I also realized that the traditional Nepali food system can be something valuable for the children of contemporary Nepali culture and future too. It may also provide value to learners from other countries as well.

Taking Gundruk to Australia? This question comes from many Nepali people residing in the diaspora. Bringing traditional Nepali food to a selection of foreign countries is subject to appropriate actions (for example, penalties) as per the local legislation. Hence, it is wise to prepare Nepali 'gundruk' in your own Nepali premises (homes) in a foreign country. If you can find 'Rayo ko Sag' (or leaves of radish, mustard, or turnip) in a local Asian shop, then please give it a try! Why not?

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