Bhutan, the happiest country in Asia, is no ordinary place and so is its cuisine! Try these lip-smacking delicacies for an amazing Bhutanese holiday experience.
The landlocked kingdom of Bhutan in Asia is located within the Eastern Himalayas, and shares its borders with China and India. Bhutan attracts a lot of travellers because of its magnificent landscapes, monasteries, and fortresses. The Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan is perhaps the most spectacular, standing on the edge of a cliff. Apart from the holy ambience, this monastery offers visitors some breath-taking views of the valley. Punakha Dzong or the Palace of Great Happiness is located between two rivers and is the second oldest and the most beautiful palace in this country.
The ideal way to enjoy your vacation in Bhutan is to explore the country’s culture and traditions, including their cuisine. Although Bhutanese cuisine may be influenced by the surrounding countries, the local food is unlike anything you have tasted. Bhutanese cuisine has a lot of chillies in it, in fact, they consider it a vegetable. So be ready to set your mouth on fire! Here are 5 delicacies that you must try when you are in Bhutan.
This mouth-watering delicacy contains ingredients that are very basic, chillies and the local Bhutanese cheese, datshi. Either red or green chillies can be used to make this cheesy concoction, the chillies are sliced length-wise and cooked in loads of butter and datshi.
When you sample this dish from a few local restaurants in Bhutan, you will realise that there are subtle differences. While some restaurants may make it richer with cheese, there may be a few eateries that make them lighter and watery. For meat lovers, there is a meat version of ema datshi too.
No matter where you stay in Bhutan, you will be served red rice with your curry. This variety of rice is healthier than white rice, it has more fibre and manganese. You can get approximately 80% of your daily manganese by eating just one serving of the red rice in Bhutan.
When the rice is cooked, the red colour changes to a pale red or rose pink and the texture of the rice becomes sticky and soft. Though it is more chewy than white rice, the health benefits are worth it! Pair any of the Bhutanese dishes with the coarser red rice and they will complement each other very well.
Po Cha or butter tea, is the Bhutanese version of tea, a delicacy that every tea lover should try when in Bhutan. The origin of this butter tea can be traced to Nepal and Tibet where it is staple. The uniqueness of this tea comes from the fact that fresh yak butter is used as one of the ingredients.
A word of advice, if you have never tasted tea with butter or oil in it, you may not take to it immediately. However, this is a perfect drink for chilly evenings and crisp mornings in Bhutan.
Pork is perhaps the most loved meat in Bhutan, and the Phaksha Paa (pork with red chillies) is a must-try Bhutanese dish. To make it, boneless strips from the pork shoulder are simply stir fried with whole dry red chillies.
Typically, vegetables like bok choy, radish, and ginger are added to this meaty wonder. Couple this Bhutanese dish with red rice, and it is guaranteed to be finger-licking good! You can even mix it with some of the popular datshi dishes.
If you do not eat any meat other than chicken, you are definitely in luck in Bhutan. Jasha Maroo is a spicy chicken dish made with ingredients like garlic, coriander, ginger, onions, tomatoes, and of course, chillies. The thing that makes this dish so lip-smacking is the fact that all the ingredients used are fresh.
When made with chicken broth, it is served as a stew. As with most other Bhutanese dishes, Jasha Maroo tastes absolutely delicious with red rice.
Wondering about desserts in Bhutanese cuisine? It is common to finish meals with fresh fruits like watermelon and mangoes. Some restaurants even serve Po Cha at the end of the meal. Do try different local dishes to make your Bhutan holiday experience more authentic.
Location: On the eastern edge of the Himalayas in South Asia
How to Reach: Paro International Airport, 6km from Paro city centre
Official Language: Dzongkha
Currency: Bhutanese ngultrum
Time Zone: BTT (UTC+6)
Climate: Subtropical to temperate, varies with altitude
Food & Drink: Known for their liberal use of chillies
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