Keeping Our Tourists’ Hearts and Bellies Full With Local Cuisine

Bhutan without a doubt is a tourist-friendly country. And now that the pandemic is somewhat over, the world is buzzing with activities and tourists are busy packing their bags again. Fascinated with the weather, hospitality, and open ambience in general, the country witnesses tourists all – year- round. Keeping tourists with varied tastes in their minds, our restaurants serve all kinds of delicacies. There are curries, sandwiches, pizza, and other popular food items available across the nation. But nothing matches the experience of savouring our local cuisine made with locally available fresh ingredients. Let’s see some popular dishes that have put Bhutan on the world food map.

1) Ema Datshi: Our national dish is number one amongst food enthusiasts. The combination of chillies and cheese gives it a very distinct taste. Made with hot Bhutanese chilly and yak cheese, this dish definitely tests your spice tolerance. The yak cheese sometimes is substituted with other cheese when it is not available, but the spice level is not to be compromised! It is mainly served with rice or bread.

2) Phaksha Paa: Pork lovers are in for a treat. This one again is very spicy, but tourists can request the makers to adjust the level as per their tastes.  Dried pork is first cooked with spices and then fresh chillies are added. Some versions have vegetables as well.

3) Jasha Maru: The simple soulful chicken stew. South East Asia is full of different types of chicken curries and this is the contribution from Bhutan. Cooked with onion, tomatoes, ginger and of course our world-famous chillies, this curry is the ultimate comfort food.

4) Kewa Datshi:  This literally means Potato and cheese. This and Ema Datshi are the two dishes that are widely loved by tourists and recreated by food bloggers back in their home countries. It is a milder version of Ema Datshi, with the addition of potatoes. Potatoes bring in a mild taste. Cheesy, full of potatoes and a hint of chillies, what is not to love? Also, people who are not used to spicy food can start with this one and find their way to the spicier dishes.

5) Goep: This one is for beef lovers.  Tripes ( internal organs of cows ) are first cleaned and boiled, and then cooked with radish, chilli and cheese. Yes, we love our cheese! This dish is mainly served with red rice. It can be safely said that it is our version of stir fry.

6) Datshi Curry: Again the one with cheese. In addition to cheese and chilli, this dish includes meat and vegetables. The meat is often beef or poked but could be chicken as well. Meat is cooked tenderly and then mixed with the flavour chilli and cheese. It is served with bread or rice.

7) Momo:  Momos are quite popular in Nepal and Tibet as well, but nothing beats the ones we find here. These dumplings are filled with meat and vegetables and are served with a spicy sauce made with tomatoes and chillies.

The list goes on and on. It is best to ask the local guides what and where to eat. If tourists are willing to try, their taste buds will thank them for the years to come, such is the magic of our cuisine.

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