Upohar, a restaurant in Lancaster County, is serving up dishes with a cause. Bengali for “gift”, Upohar gives to those who need it the most by primarily employing refugees and homeless people. There is a large population of refugees in Lancaster, nearing about 2400. According to refugeesinpa.org, 119 more refugees arrived in Lancaster this September. Srirupa Dasgupta, owner of Upohar, hires female refugees and pays them livable wages. Employees are paid 15.50 an hour. The menu features food from the home countries of the employees. Most dishes are vegetarian.
Upohar is open for lunch Mondays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner is only on Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Diners that are not familiar with the ethnic dishes should not fear. All the ingredients in the dishes are spelled out in menu. There are many menu options for lunch. Appetizers include Sanbusa, Shijar bil Firin (an herb frittata with zucchini) and hummus served with flat bread and cucumbers. I sampled the Sanbusa. This baked turnover with vegetables was surprisingly sweet and filling. I also tried the Iraqi-style hummus. It was amazingly fresh and mild. It was definitely one of the best hummus I have eaten (and I’ve had fresh hummus in Spain and Turkey).
The World Buffet Lunch offers many dishes to choose from. The buffet features African cucumber salad, vegetable tagine (a Moroccan stew), couscous, Central African peanut stew, Congolese kale, Nigerian fried rice, Masoori Dal (Nepali lentil stew), cumin rice and eggplant Tarkari (eggplant cooked Nepali-style). The African cucumber salad is spicy in a way that is flavorful. This dish caused me to willingly eat a variety of vegetables, which rarely occurs.
Dinner appetizers include: Momo (steamed dumplings), corn Vadai (corn and lentil fritters), Sanbusa, Shijar bil Firin, hummus and flat bread. Along with the combo dinners offered, Upohar has a Saturday night dinner special. The Nepali dinner features Masoori Dal (Nepali stew with lentils), long bean Tarkari and cumin rice. With the North African dinner, guests are served vegetable tagine and couscous. The Sub-Saharan African dinner includes Central African peanut stew, Congolese kale and Nigerian fried rice. I ordered the Sub-Saharan African dinner. The Central African peanut stew was rich and delicious, served over the Nigerian fried rice. The rice cooked in coconut milk was an alternative to the fried rice most people are familiar with.
Patrons will not go hungry with all the courses offered. Overall, Upohar has a charming atmosphere, delicious food and kind, attentive waitresses. Tasty and interesting international food can found in our backyard. Knowing it’s for a good cause makes it all that more appealing. Upohar also caters and has take-out option. Call 717-569-2782 for reservations and take-out orders.