Food of Bhutan

Food in Bhutan: Must-try food dishes in Bhutanese cuisine

Author: TG Contributor
Date: 2020-01-31

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Bhutan does not only offer bewitching places to visit and explore but also offers delicious culinary delights. Bhutan is a small country and is surrounded by some neighbouring countries. Many people of Bhutan in the border areas not only speak foreign languages but their culture, traditions and foods are also influenced by these countries to some extent in Bhutan. The food of Bhutan may have been influenced by India, China, and Tibet, but the local food still remains unique. Bhutanese food employs a lot of red rice buckwheat, and maize. The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese food is its spiciness, with chillis being an essential part of nearly every food item.There are lots of options to choose to eat at Bhutan. Bhutan is also known for its production of delicious local cheese and you will also be able to find cheese in many dishes of Bhutan.

The following is a list of different foods you need to definitely try on your next trip to the mountain kingdom - Bhutan:

Ema Datshi (Food of Bhutan)

Ema Datshi is a popular stew made of chillies and cheese in Bhutan. And is also the national dish of Bhutan. It is undisputedly the foremost widespread dish within the country, and any discussion concerning Bhutanese food cannot go without the mention of Ema Datshi. You cannot miss having this delicious dish of Bhutan when you visit the country.

The delicious Ema-Datshi of Bhutan

The delicious Ema-Datshi of Bhutan

Shamu Datshi (Food of Bhutan)

For those who can’t take spicy food, shamu datshi is a good alternative to ema datshi. The dish uses local Bhutanese Himalayan mushroom and is cooked in cheese and butter to create a creamy stew. If you are someone who do not like spices, then you must try Shamu datshi when you visit Bhutan.

Kewa Datshi (Food of Bhutan)

Kewa datshi is another variant of cheese stew of Bhutan and uses potatoes as the main ingredient. A milder version for the sensitive palate, potatoes are thinly sliced and sautéed in butter. Cheese and sometimes chillies are added to the mix. This Bhutanese dish is a great and delectable option for those who can’t tolerate heat in their food.

Gondo Datshi (Food of Bhutan)

Also called as butter egg fry, eggs are scrambled with cheese and a large quantity of butter, resulting in a fragrant condensed scrambled egg cheese mixture. This food is best eaten with Himalayan red rice and is one of the most popular dishes of Bhutan.

Shakam Ema Datshi (Food of Bhutan)

This is the non-vegetarian version of the Bhutanese datshi, shakam (dried beef) is cut into bite-size pieces and simmered down with butter and cheese. The beef is spicy so avoid this food in Bhutan if you can’t take the heat.

Shakam Ema Datshi - Food of Bhutan

Shakam Ema Datshi - Food of Bhutan

Shakam Shukam Datshi - Food of Bhutan

An interesting food to try out in Bhutan is the shakam shukam datshi, made up of dried beef cooked with cheese and chillies. However, what sets this food apart is the unique flavour imparted from the presence of Bhutanese dried white chillies that are used in place of the regular local chillies. 

Yaksha Shakam (Food of Bhutan)

This yummy Bhutanese food dish uses dried yak meat cooked in a number of different ways. One way of making it is cooking cut up dried yak meat with fermented yak cheese. It is one of the dishes you must try in Bhutan. 

Red Rice (Food of Bhutan)

Red rice is a staple food of the Bhutanese. It's a medium-grain style of rice and is abundantly grown in the fertile soil of the Paro depression in Bhutan. It cooks quicker than different rice varieties. As a result of being partly polished, i.e. the amount of the bran left on the rice, it acquires an auburn tinge. You cannot skip red rice in Bhutan, it is absolutely a must-have food.

Red rice with chicken and spinach - Food of Bhutan

Red rice with chicken and spinach - Food of Bhutan

Jasha Maroo or Maru (Food of Bhutan)

Jasha Maroo is a Bhutanese dish that is sort of a spicy stew or curry that is formed with diced chicken, onion, garlic, chillies, tomato, ginger and coriander leaves. Ginger provides this dish with its essence. It should be served with a generous portion of broth and rice.

Phaksha Paa (Food of Bhutan)

Phaksha Paa is a popular Bhutanese pork dish comprising pork slices stir-fried with whole red dry chillies, ginger, and bok choy. Paa could be a curry with gravy or a meaty stew. Phaksha Paa highlights another favourite food of the Bhutanese individuals, which is pork. Mountain vegetables like radishes and spinach are served as side dishes in Phaksha Paa.

Paaksha paa - Food of Bhutan

Paaksha paa - Food of Bhutan

Zow Shungo (Food of Bhutan)

Not one’s to waste leftover food, the Bhutanese make a dish called Zow, which is made of leftover vegetables and red rice and is a quick ready meal in itself.

Jaju Soup (Food of Bhutan)

Jaju is created from vegetables like the native spinach or even turnips. This Bhutanese broth is made with milk and butter. Sometimes, cheese is added to the preparation to make it heartier and tastier.

Jasha Tshoem (Food of Bhutan)

Jasha Tshoem is a spicy Bhutanese stew made of beef and seasoned with ginger, garlic, onions, cayenne pepper, and generally mushrooms.

Khur-le (Food of Bhutan)

Khur-le is hearty Bhutanese breakfast food item, ideal for cold climates. The pancakes are made out of buckwheat, barley, or flour. It goes well with different Bhutanese food like ema or shakam datshi, or with eggs and sauces.

Puta (Food of Bhutan)

Puta, or buckwheat noodles, offer a healthy alternative to the regular noodles, as they're made of buckwheat. It’s usually served poached; however, it can be stir-fried in oil. Serving as an alternative to rice, buckwheat noodles function as a staple food in Bhutan.

Khatem (Food of Bhutan)

Khatem is a preparation of bitter melon or bitter gourd, usually the Indian selection. It's sliced up thinly and deep-fried in butter and seasoned. It is served as a side dish in Bhutan.

Khatem - Food of Bhutan

Khatem - Food of Bhutan

Goep (Food of Bhutan)

Goep is for tripe lovers as it’s made of slices of tripe stir-fried with dried chillies, green onions, and sometimes small vegetables. The texture of this food dish is interesting, so brave it out and try it just for experimentation sake.

Juma (Food of Bhutan)

Juma is a Bhutanese sausage. It is made of minced meat and rice mixed in some light spices.  What makes this food interesting is the inclusion of Sichuan pepper, which gives a citrusy flavour.

Hoentay (Food of Bhutan)

These are momos made with buckwheat flour. The filling is a mix of local turnip or spinach leaves and cheese and is best eaten by dipping it in Bhutanese chilli sauce called ezay. This food can be either steamed or fried.

Lom (Food of Bhutan)

Lom is the go-to food during winters when vegetables are scarcely available. Turnip leaves are dried and stored and later is prepared by either sautéing it on its own or cooking it with some dried pork.

 Goen Hogay (Food of Bhutan)

This is a traditional Bhutanese cucumber salad. This is a very refreshing food dish and contains sliced cucumber, tomatoes, onions, chilli flakes, cilantro, and a sprinkle of Sichuan pepper and cheese.

Tshampa (Food of Bhutan)

Tshampa is a dough starch made of whole wheat flour. This food is a staple filler. It’s eaten by rolling it into a small ball with your fingers and eating it with other Bhutanese food dishes such as ema datshi.