Bhutan is known as the country full of interesting facts, namely as the very last Buddhist kingdom in the world, as the country with a modest population of only 700,000 people, as the home of the Hymalayas with the world roof and as the happiest country in the world. Bhutan also has a unique cuisine that every visitor cannot stand to taste. Bhutanese cuisine, which borders on China, India and Tibet, has many similarities with these neighbouring countries, but it still has its own peculiarity: it is less oily than Chinese and Indian dishes and much hotter than most Tibetan dishes. Once you are on holiday in Bhutan, you must be prepared to try burning dishes, as one of the main ingredients – often considered by locals as a kind of vegetable – in every Bhutanese meal is chilli. When you enter Bhutan’s land, be prepared to light your mouth with 5 “must-try dishes”!
– Bhutan Ema datshi
Ema datshi is rightly one of the most famous dishes of the “Thunder Dragon” country and is constantly on the top list of “must-try” dishes for visitors coming to Bhutan. Ema datshi consists of two main ingredients: fresh chillies (ema) and farm cheese (datshi) and is considered the national dish of the indigenous population. The recipes for this traditional national dish can easily be adapted to any individual taste: Mushrooms, green beans, ferns and potatoes can be served with it, or different types of fresh or dried chilies such as green or red can be substituted. Just like the traditional “pho” of the Vietnamese, ema datshi is the national pride of the Bhutanese.
– Jasha maru
Jasha maru is a kind of stewed chopped chicken that only occurs in Bhutan. It is often cooked with chicken broth, various herbs and chilies. What makes it a distinctive dish is that the red chillies that people use for cooking are only grown in the Thimphu region, and this type of chilli is considered the most important ingredient in Bhutanese cuisine. Jasha maru is often served with rice.
– Red rice from Bhutan
As an Asian country and strongly influenced by two neighbouring countries, China and India, Bhutan still preserves the culture of the rice grain. Unlike all other countries, the rice grains in Bhutan have a very special colour – a dark red. Red rice has always been the soul of every meal of the Bhutanese people, and foreigners find red rice either in their daily meal or on festive occasions. Red rice is grown almost in the Paro Valley, where the plants are irrigated with mineral-rich water. Thanks to the fertile soils there, red rice enjoys a very high nutritional value and brings a very earthy taste to the guests. With only one portion of Bhutanese red rice, one can cover about 80% of the daily requirement of manganese and 20% of the daily requirement of phosphorus. Before cooking, red rice has a dark red colour, but after cooking, the colour becomes paler and the texture becomes soft and sticky. This earthy delicacy is often served with meat or other salty Asian-style dishes.
– Bhutan Momo
For western travellers, momo may be a very characteristic dish that should not be ignored, as this delicacy has immigrated to India and looks similar to the dumplings in China. Throughout the Himalayas, from Nepal and Tibet to Bhutan, these steamed rolls are served as local delicacies. There may be many other variations of momos, but the differences are perhaps obvious when you look at them from the inside. People fill momos with all kinds of things, but the typical fillings would be chopped pork and beef, cabbage or cheese mixed with ginger, garlic and other spicy herbs.
– Bhutan Phaksapa Paa
As you learn more about the traditions and customs of Bhutan, you may find that pork is one of the favorite foods of the “Thunder Dragon” people and Phaksha Paa (which means pork with red chillies) is a classic Bhutanese dish that every meat lover must try. To prepare this delicious delicacy, boneless strips taken from the shoulder of pork are fried with the dry red chillies while stirring and then cooked slowly until tender. Usually some vegetables such as radishes, bok choy or garlic are added to balance the taste between protein and fibre-rich foods. When Phaksapa Paa is served with national grains – red rice – hardly anyone can resist proclaiming “finger-licking good”!