Bhutan is one country that celebrates its culture, food, and local traditions in the best possible way. Travellers who visit Bhutan often get awed by the warmth shown by the people. Every visitor is welcomed with such sincerity that you will come back for more! When it comes to travelling around this country, one thing that will make you enjoy your vacation is the food. Be it the mouth-watering street food items or fine-dining delicacies the food in Bhutan is beyond comparison. There is a heavy influence of Indian and Chinese cuisines that you will notice in various food joints across the country. People who love devouring spicy food are in for a treat because Bhutan’s traditional food is known for its hot and savoury flavours. However, this does not mean that every Bhutanese is supposed to be spicy. Cheese is used in abundance, so you will be able to enjoy a decadent meal on your Bhutan couple package. Here are 14 Bhutanese that you must try on your vacation:
1. Ema Datshi
The national dish of Bhutan is a stew called Ema Datshi. Before you brush this off as a regular meal that will satiate your soul but will not be able to “wow” you, try to hold your horses! Ema Datshi is anything but ordinary. You can try it out as one of the local joints where the sweetest aunties will always give you more than you can eat in one sitting. Loaded with red chillies, cheese, and tomatoes, this traditional food item of Bhutan is a must-try on your next trip to this wonderland.
2. Shakam Paa
While exploring the national foods of Bhutan, you will come across dishes known as Paa. These are essentially gravies with vegetables and a variety of meats that you can choose from, based on your personal preferences. Shakam Paa is one of the most popular dishes in Bhutan because of its unique flavours. It is made of dried beef and even drier chillies to make you forget the food that you are used to eating back at home!
3. Kewa Datshi
People who are vegetarian can take a sigh of relief in Bhutan as there are a number of delicacies that will save them from altering their food habits. One special food item in Bhutan that you will get addicted to is Kewa Datshi. A stew that is prepared with potatoes and cheese, Kewa Datshi should be consumed without worrying about the calorie count. If you love garlic in everything, then this dish will make your soul happy for days.
4. Zow Shungo
Another vegetarian delight that you will fall in love with is Zow Shungo. It is prepared with red rice and fresh vegetables, so it is one of the healthiest dishes in Bhutan that you can eat on a regular basis. Since it can be prepared very quickly, this food item can be found on the streets of Bhutan. You can get it at a reasonable price, so your budget for the trip will be well-managed.
5. Jasha Maru
There are times when you just want to enjoy the good ol’ chicken curry without venturing out too much. Jasha Maru is the ideal food option in Bhutan for such days. The earthy flavour of ginger shines in this dish to a point where you will ask for a second helping for sure! The right way to eat Jasha Maru is with red rice as it makes a hearty meal. Your Bhutan trip from India would be incomplete without trying out this food item of Bhutan celebrated nationally.
6. Phaksha Paa
Bhutanese cuisine is peculiar because the local population does not restrict itself from preparing dishes from a wide range of meats. Phaksha Paa is gravy made with stir-fried pork, vegetables from the hills, and of course, chillies. As a true food lover, this street food dish of Bhutan should be on your radar while exploring the country. For people with religious or personal restrain from pork, you can ask for a vegetarian version as well.
Goep is the name of a famous food item in Bhutan that most travellers miss out on. This is because it is such a local treasure that only the most eccentric foodies will be able to get a taste of it. The main ingredient of this dish is tripe tossed with vegetables like chillies, green onions, and garlic. You will be able to spot this dish at several street food joints in Bhutan so make sure to try it out!
To explore the Chinese influence in Bhutanese cuisine is by hogging on platefuls of Juma. It is basically a sausage made from a mix of meat, rice, and Sichuan pepper. The sheer simplicity of this food item in Bhutan will blow your mind. You can eat this as a side dish with other famous food items in Bhutan or enjoy it with a big glass of Ara (a Bhutanese alcoholic beverage made from barley, rice or millet)
9. Yaksha Shakam
Are you a jerky freak? Yaksha Shakam is jerky made from Yak meat that will make you forget the packaged alternative available in supermarkets. This is the real deal. Ideal for people who cannot consume beef, this famous food item in Bhutan is something that should be on your must-try list. That’s not all, Yaksha Shakam is loaded with fermented cheese to make you meet the food Gods in heaven and come back for more.
The Bhutanese cousin of momos is Hoentay. Yes, that’s right. Your cravings for street momos will be satiated in Bhutan with this local delicacy. The only difference is that this dumpling is made with a buckwheat wrapper. This does not that it will not be as delicious as the regular Tibetan momos that you love munching on regularly. A variety of stuffing is used in Hoentay ranging from spinach, cheese, turnip leaves, meats, and the like. Tread carefully with the chilli sauce in Bhutan as it can be a lot spicier than you are used to.
11. Goen Hogey
One of the most famous food accompaniments in Bhutan is Goen Hogey. It is a delicious amalgamation of cucumbers, onions, chillies, cheese, and coriander that will cleanse your palette instantly. In most restaurants and street food places, you will be served this side dish along with the main course items like stews and gravies. Seek help from a local who can ask the server to sprinkle some Sichuan zest on top of your Goen Hogey.
The Himalayan weather in this country can be best enjoyed with a big bowl of Jaju at a hole-in-the-wall food joint. This famous food soup of Bhutan is a medley of turnip leaves, milk, and herbs that will make you well warm and cosy in the harshest of winters. Some people might find the taste of Jaju to be a little bland that can be managed by adding some salted butter or chilli flakes.
The Bhutanese alternative for your good old Roti or Chapatti is Khur-le. These spongy pancakes are made with is commonly made with a dough of buckwheat or barley flour. You can roll this up with eggs or eat it with stews like Ema Datshi, Shakam Paa, etc. Khur-le does not get stale easily, so it works well for people who are camping in the forests and going on full-day tours in Bhutan.
Travelling in South-East Asia will inevitably land you in front of a big plate of noodles. Bhutan is no exception to this. Puta is the hand-made and nutritious version of noodles that you have a soft spot for. These buckwheat noodles have a unique style of preparation as they are stir-fried in mustard oil with some salt and Sichuan peppercorns.
The good food in Bhutan awaits you. The question is, what are you waiting for?!