A taste of Bhutan

I’m really excited whenever I visit a new country, simply because it means that I get to try some new cuisines and to share them on this blog. I was very blessed to be able to spend a week in Bhutan recently, a lovely landlocked country nestled by the Himalayas. 

Most people would recognize the country of Bhutan from of it’s iconic sights – Tiger’s Nest Monastery. And yes, I did make the hike up to the monastery which was one of the most rewarding hikes I’ve been on in a while.

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But really, on to the food. In a nutshell, much of Bhutan’s cuisine consists of chilli and cheese. There is a lot of Indian influence, and many Bhutanese restaurants would serve a couple of Indian or Indian inspired dishes. Here’s a brief collage at the various kinds of foods I was able to try while in Bhutan

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Some of the interesting dishes from Bhutan include:

Ema Datse – large green chillis, prepared as a vegetable in a cheese sauce. There are some variations to this, such as shamu datse (mushrooms with cheese sauce) and kewa datse (potatoes with cheese sauce)

Below: left is a picture of ema datse and to the right is a picture of shamu datse

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Rice – there is plenty of white rice, which tends to be the common staple. However, the Bhutanese also produce a red variety. I was told by my guide that red rice is now commonly eaten during festivals instead but I did get to try some during my stay there

Below: a picture of red rice, a local raw radish salad and kewa datse (potatoes with cheese sauce)

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While out with my guide in Punakha, I also got to try some interesting fried local vegetable snacks and blood sausage.

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Nakey (Fiddlehead ferns) – a unique vegetable which is commonly found in Bhutan where it is wet and warm. It certainly has an interesting appearance and I got to try it as a stir fry

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Momos – One of my favourite dishes from Bhutan. Momos find their origin from Nepal. Some may even argue that the dumplings look suspiciously chinese. Whatever it is, the filling is quite uniquely Bhutanese. I tried the vegetarian version (momos filled with cheese and shredded vegetables) and the non vegetarian version (momos filled with beef). Both were extremely delicious, especially when served piping hot.

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Salt Butter Tea – a drink commonly found in Bhutan and Tibet. Traditionally, it is made from tea leaves, yak butter, water and salt. I was encouraged by my guide to have it with rice crispies, hence the the sprinkling of those in my tea.

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Lastly, while this is not really a well known fact, strawberries do grow in Bhutan as well (and they are incredibly small). We were driving on the road pass to Haa Valley and suddenly my guide pulled over to pluck some wild strawberries for me to try. 🙂

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