Bhutanese Food- 15 Best Dishes to try on your Bhutan trip

Bhutanese food
Bhutanese food

Are you confused about what to eat and where to eat; while you are in Bhutan? Check out my 2-minute guide that covers on Authentic Bhutanese food to try out while travelling to this beautiful Himalayan country and learn about exotic Bhutanese food recipes.

Bhutanese food consists of pure organic greenery vegetables like fresh garden spinach, chilli, leafy garlic, cherry tomatoes and as one explores deep inside Bhutan, one will experience different exotic dishes that will thrill your taste buds. Bhutan is one of the top-rated travel destinations in the world because of its natural biodiversity and the world only carbon negative country. Apart from being heritage to scenic mountains and landscape, the kingdom of Bhutan do consists of its own traditional cuisine, in addition to these different places have different unique mouth savouring dishes.

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15 Amazing Bhutanese Food to try!

1. Ema Datshi (chilies with cheese)

ema datshi is the mixture of homemade chili and cottage cheese
ema datshi

Despite being very hot, chilli is consumed a lot by many Bhutanese. Ema Datshi is National Dish of Bhutan, which is made up of chilli and cheese stew. Firstly chillis are a slice from middle and mixed along with onions, garlic, water and a certain amount of butter/oil. Let it cook for some time, and the cottage cheese is added to the curry, that highlights the dish with unique taste.

You might find different varieties of ema datshi in Bhutan (some might be gravy and some will be liquid) but the overall taste still remains the same.

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2. Jasha Maru

jasha maru
jasha maru

This is another recommended dish to try “Jasha maru” which is made of chicken with vegetable boiled together and served along with Bhutanese red rice. Ginger is the main key ingredient used while preparing jasha maru and you can actually feel the unique taste of ginger while consuming. Jasha maru is prepared during annual rituals, family gathering and birthday celebrations.  If you like to try these authentic Bhutanese food |jasha maru| then you can check out Babesa village Restaurant in Thimphu Capital city.

3. Suja (Traditional Bhutanese Butter tea)

suja butter tea
suja butter tea

Butter tea is mostly consumed by Bhutanese people during morning hours and while attending Guest. It is a little bit different from regular tea, as you can see suja is made from fresh cows/Yak butter with special kind of tea leaves purely made by locals and churning them together with a certain amount of salt in it. You might not like this butter tea if you are drinking for the first time but I assure you that it really comforts you in this colder weather. Suja is also served in different parts of the Himalayan country like Nepal, Tibet and a certain part of China.

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4. Shakam Datshi

shakam datshi
shakam datshi

A mixture of Dried beef and datshi is cheese is popularly known as Shakam Datshi. When you are in Bhutan you can actually find beef hanging on windows and outside of any Bhutanese houses. They actually dry beef in sunlight but not totally dried. Then the beef is boiled and simmered with cheese and some portion of cooking oil. The taste of shakam datshi is amazing; you can totally feel the fragile texture of beef melting inside your mouth. 

5. Jaju

jaju Bhutanese soup
jaju Bhutanese soup

The whitish Bhutanese soup made of fresh milk with some vegetable added mostly spinach and damburu is popularly known as Jaju. You will experience different varieties of jaju, while you are in Bhutan, some might taste soft moreover taste remains the same.

6. Buckwheat noodle (Puta)

Puta Bhutanese  Buckwheat Noodle
Puta |Photo courtesy: denkarsgetaway|

Puta is originally from Bumthang valley, which is kind of bucket noodle only suitable to be grown in higher altitude. Buckwheat is harvest during mid of autumn, and then it is ground in flour machine. The tiny bucket flour is then mashed with water. Finally, a chunk of bucket flour is press through wooden flour presser. That’s how puta is made of!  Freshly made puta are dried in sun that kind of dehydrates flour completely. For Puta, noodles are boiled in hot water, stir-fried in oil and serve along with Sichuan pepper for extra flavouring.

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7. Buck wheat Pancake (Khurle)

Khurle is similar like a pancake but a bit larger in size

Khurle is similar like a pancake but a bit larger in size, which is made up of bucket, serve during morning breakfast. Ezay (a type of chilli salad) and fried eggs goes well with khurle.

8. Kewa Datshi

Kewa Datshi
Kewa Datshi

Bhutanese Kew Datshi means potatoes with cheeseless spicy than traditional ema datshi. Potatoes are sliced in shape, then boil in hot water till it gets tender and some cottage cheese is added to it. Mostly serve it along with Bhutanese red rice. This dish is highly pleasant to taste, loved by many tourist visitors in Bhutan.

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9. Hoentay (Buckwheat Dumpling)

Hoentay (Buckwheat Dumpling)
Hoentay (Buckwheat Dumpling)

Another best known Bhutanese food to taste “Hoentay “, originated from Haa valley looks similar like momo dumpling but as of colour, it’s bit brownish because it is purely made of buckwheat stuffing with turnip leaves inside. Hoentay goes well with Bhutanese Ezay and Suja tea.

10. Red Rice

Bhutanese Red Rice
Bhutanese Red Rice

Bhutanese red rice is red coloured rice grain harvested in the plains of Bhutan rich in dietary minerals and fibre that helps in digestion. Most Bhutanese consumed red rice throughout the day and you will definitely experience too, on your holiday trip to Bhutan.

11. Ara (traditional liquor in Bhutan)
Ara (traditional liquor in Bhutan)
Ara (traditional liquor in Bhutan)

Traditional homemade wines locally brewed liquor in Bhutan made of any kind of grains depending on the region is called “Ara”. Eastern Bhutanese used maize and millet to make Ara, similarly central and northern Bhutanese native used wheat and barley. Ara is prepared and stored for an annual religious event or some special family gathering coming up. It is sometimes rude to say no to Ara, so be prepared to try Bhutanese Ara.

12. Khatem

Khatem cripsy bitter gourd
Khatem cripsy bitter gourd

The crispy bitter gourd dish known as Khatem is sliced in round or triangular in shape and finally fried in hot oil that acts as an appetizer.

13. Sicam Paa
Sicaam Paa
Sicaam Paa

Sicam Paa is the slice of sundried pork which is rich in fats, mostly cooked along with radish with red dried Bhutanese chilli.

14. Zaow

When you visit any Bhutanese residence, they offer you butter tea (suja) or milk tea with brownish puffed rice locally known as Zaow. Zaow is a typical Bhutanese snack, made of rice soaked throughout the night in water and fried.

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15. Jangpaling

It is prepared same like puta but here they used milled wheat flour instead of buckwheat “Jangpaling” is another revered version of spaghetti mixed with water that is combined into a soft dough, and then sliced in a rectangular shape, steam in hot boiling water, stir fry slightly with some Sichuan pepper, red chilli flakes along with some green vegetables like spinach in it.

You may also like to know:

Is vegetarian food available in Bhutan?

Yes, there is an ample vegetarian restaurant and hotels in Bhutan. Check out Khurle, Red rice, Puta and jaju, which are pure vegetarian Bhutanese food to taste. Most of the Bhutanese dishes are similar to Nepalese and Tibetan food like momo, thukpa etc.

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How much does food cost in Bhutan?

The cost of Bhutanese food is minimal but sometimes it may be expensive. It depends upon which restaurant or hotel, you are having a meal. Normal restaurant cost around Nu.150 for vegetarian food and for non-veg it cost maximum Nu.200.

Where can I find an Indian restaurant in Bhutan?

Chha’s Bistro

Chha’s Bistro Thimphu
Chha’s Bistro Thimphu

If you are craving to try Indian food in Bhutan, then I would suggest you check out chha’s bistro located in changzamtog, Thimphu. They are specialized in a different variation of Indian dishes plus one can try Chinese dishes too.


The kingdom of Bhutan comprises of different version of Bhutanese cuisine, although Bhutanese food is not that popular to the outside world if you ever get chance to taste, then I will assure you won’t regret experiencing best cuisine of Bhutan.

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