Are you confused about what to eat and where to eat; while you are in Bhutan? Check out my 2-minute guide that covers 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, and 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’s only carbon-negative country.
Apart from being a heritage of scenic mountains and landscape, the kingdom of Bhutan does 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 (chillies with cheese)
Despite being very hot, chilli is consumed a lot by many Bhutanese.
Ema Datshi is the National Dish of Bhutan, which is made up of chilli and cheese stew. Firstly chillis are a slice from the 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, which highlights the dish with a 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
This is another recommended dish to try “Jasha maru” which is made of chicken with vegetables 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 it.
Jasha maru is prepared during annual rituals, family gatherings 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)
Butter tea is mostly consumed by Bhutanese people during morning hours and while attending to Guests. It is a little bit different from regular tea, as you can see suja is made from fresh cows/Yak butter with special kinds 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 it 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
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 are 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.
The whitish Bhutanese soup made of fresh milk with some vegetables 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 is originally from Bumthang valley, which is a kind of buckwheat noodle only suitable to be grown at higher altitudes.
Buckwheat is harvested during mid-autumn, and then it is ground in a flour machine. The tiny buckwheat flour is then mashed with water.
Finally, a chunk of bucket flour is pressed through a wooden flour presser.
That’s what 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. Buckwheat Pancake (Khurle)
Khurle is similar to a pancake but a bit larger in size, which is made up of buckwheat, serve during morning breakfast. Ezay (a type of chilli salad) and fried eggs goes well with khurle.
8. 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, and loved by many tourist visitors in Bhutan.
9. Hoentay (Buckwheat Dumpling)
Another best known Bhutanese food to taste is “Hoentay “, which originated from Haa valley and looks similar to momo dumplings.
As for colour, it’s a 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 is red coloured rice grain harvested in the plains of Bhutan rich in dietary minerals and fibre that helps indigestion.
Most Bhutanese consumed red rice throughout the day and you will definitely experience it too, on your holiday trip to Bhutan.
11. 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 natives 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.
The crispy bitter gourd dish known as Khatem is sliced in round or triangular shape and finally fried in hot oil that acts as an appetizer.
13. Sicam Paa
Sicam Paa is a slice of sundried pork that is rich in fats, mostly cooked along with radish with red dried Bhutanese chilli.
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.
It is prepared the same as 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 ample vegetarian restaurants 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.
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?
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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