Most people around the world have no clue about Bhutanese food. They think it’s similar to Indian or Nepalese, but in Bhutan you can you can experience a whole new genre of food culture.
Nepali, Indian and Tibetan food are all very common and available throughout the country, however, you can’t visit the country without trying authentic Bhutanese dishes that have been around centuries. Be warned; if you think Thai foods are spicy; prepare yourself for another level. The food in Bhutan is spicy to help warm up the citizens of this “happy country”.
The most revered Bhutanese dish is Ema Datshi, which literally translates to chilli and cheese. The chilli can be either fresh green chilli or dry red chilli, sliced lengthwise, and cooked with datshi, which is local Bhutanese cheese with plenty of butter. This is the national ‘soul food’ of Bhutan. A related dish is called Kewa Datshi which substitutes the chilli for potatoes, if a bean is substituted for chilli, it is called Semchum Datshi, if mushroom is substituted for chilli it is called Shamu Datshi.
Bhutanese cheese is home-made from the curd of cow or yak’s milk. In the process, the fat is removed from the curd to make butter, and the remaining curd without fat is used to make the cheese. After the cheese is made, a watery liquid is left over, which is used as a soup that can be taken with rice.
From now it is pretty evident that you cannot eat Bhutanese food without eating cheese and chillies. Shukam are Bhutanese dried white chillies. So this dish includes cuts of dried beef cooked with cheese and white chillies which add a unique spice to the dish. Don’t mistake this for any other regular beef curry you might find in any other countries.
This Bhutanese dish includes cuts of dried beef cooked with cheese and white chillies which add a unique spice to the dish. Pork is also widely consumed in Bhutan. For this dish, small slices of pork are stir fried with red chillies
and vegetables. This is another staple Bhutanese dish that is great with rice and some datshi dishes.
For bacon lovers, Sikam Paa is like bacon on the next level. When in Bhutan, you’ll see strands of half transparent pork belly hanging in the sun to dry, well that’s sikam. For Sikam Paa, the dried pork belly is fried up with dried chillies. Yaksha Shakam For the Bhutanese, if there is anything that is better than dried beef then it’s the dried yak meat. With a taste similar to beef, the yak meat can be cooked in many ways. One of the best versions of dried yak meat is cut up and cooked with fermented yak cheese.
This is a most edible, cheese snack. Dried yak cheese is also common in Tibet and Nepal and so hard that you will have to munch for hours. You’ll see strands of chogo hanging like necklaces around markets in Bhutan.
Rinchen & Esori