What and Where to Eat in Bhutan
You will always find Bhutanese cuisine filled with spiciness. Most of the dishes have prominent flavour of chilli which is used as a core ingredient. Chillies (green or red) are used as main ingredients and not as a seasoning. Bhutanese food is mainly inspired by the Indian, Tibetan and Chinese culture.
Most commonly eaten ingredients in Bhutan are Radishes, Tomatoes, Turnips, Spinach, Chillies, Pumpkins, Onions, Green Beans, River Weed, Buckwheat, Rice, Barley, Beef, Pork, Chicken and mix spices. Rice is a staple food here.
The following are some of the most famous Bhutanese dishes one can enjoy while visiting Bhutan:
Ema Datshi (Ema Datse)
The national food of Bhutan is Ema Datshi also called Ema Datse. Prepared with spicy chilli and local cheese, Ema Datshi is a vegetarian delicious dish eaten by almost every Bhutanese and can be found throughout the country. It has been named from Ema i.e. chilli and Datsi i.e. cheese. Variations in this dish also available known as Kewa-datsi and Shamu-datsi by adding green beans, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, ferns, potatoes, yak cheese and chilli. Maintaining standard spice level, all restaurants offer these most popular dishes according to your taste.
Momos are one of the famous and favourite dishes generally available in all Himalayan Regions like Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. Momos are kind of dumplings or steamed buns typically filled with minced beef, pork, cabbage or other vegetables and fresh cheese. The stuffing is prepared with spices mixes such as coriander, garlic and ginger. Bhutanese eat momos daily as well as served on special occasions.
Tickle your taste buds with sumptuous Goep (Tripe) which is one of the popular dishes made with plenty of spicy chillies and chilli powder. This recipe was popular in many countries earlier but by the time it has vanished somehow. But, Bhutan is still in love with it. Like most other Bhutanese dishes, Goep also consists meat and lots of spices mix which makes the dish super-delicious.
Another traditional cuisine of Bhutan is Jasha Maru, one of the spiciest dishes full of chicken. Foodies must like the great blending of lots of perfectly diced Chicken, Onion, Chilli, Tomatoes, Ginger, Garlic and Coriander. Some people use beef instead of chicken also. The dish also famous as stew, served with the hefty portion of liquid along with perfectly cooked red rice. Though it is too spicy, most of the foreigners can’t afford to taste these much spicy. They may demand the chef to prepare a particular combination with less spice.
Bhutanese Red Rice
Major food portions of Bhutanese dishes are filled with rice, especially Red rice. Highly nutritious Red rice is the great source of manganese, phosphorus and cancer-fighting antioxidant. Just one serving of Red rice gives many nutrients compared to nuts. Brown rice is very much similar to Red rice. Slightly pink, red rice is served with meat or vegetable dishes either one or two sides.
People in Bumthang prefer to eat buckwheat, pancakes and noodles in place of Red rice as these two are the main staple.
Delicious boneless pork cooked with red chillies, radishes, spinach, bok choy, ginger and other spices will surely fill the mouth with water for those who love the non-veg cuisine. Phaksha Paa is served with aromatic buckwheat dumplings or momos stuffed with cheese, turpin greens and other ingredients, topped with dried pork and fresh green chilli.
Puta is traditional staple of Bhutan and is highly nutritious noodles made from buckwheat that only grown in high altitude areas of Bhutan. Puta is very simple dish prepared with boiled noodles adding light seasoning of salt and Sichuan pepper. Sometimes noodles are stir fried in mustard oil to make variations. The dish is similar to Japanese soba noodles.
Healthy and hearty traditional dish ‘Tshampa’ is made from whole wheat flour which is starchy and heavy intake, having a dough consistency. It was a popular traditional dish of Bhutan once but now very few people can make it in an authentic traditional way. It can be eaten with any of the main course dishes such as Ema Datshi or Shakam Paa by roll into a ball in your finger.
Made with rice, meat, light spices and other tasty ingredients, Juma is commonly eaten as Bhutanese sausage. Generally, it is marinated with spices and noodles and served with lots of meat and rice.
Hoentay is kind of momos, made with a buckwheat dough wrapper is a traditional as well as a popular dish of Bhutan.The tastiest combination of turnip leaves or local spinach, cheese and other spices made it extremely delicious. As we steam or fry momos, the same procedure is done with hoentay. Hoentay is originally from Haa Valley in Bhutan. Bhutanese chilli sauce (ezay) is specially served as a dipwith it.
Along with sumptuous food, Bhutan has hundreds of traditional drinks to be served along with food or as a welcome drink. black and green tea, butter tea known as suja, milk tea known as ngaja, beer, locally brewed ar a (strong shake of rice wine), a fermented drink made from maize, rice, millet or wheat are very popular as the traditional drinks.
Other Popular Dishes
Other popular, as well as traditional Bhutanese dishes, are No Sha Huentseu, Phak Sha Phin Tshoem, Bja Sha Maroo, Dal Bhat, Kewa Datse, Barthu, Ezays, Thueb, Fing, Shakam Eezay, Khabzey , Zow Shungo, Thukpa, Bathup, and Khur-Le.