Best Food to Eat in Bhutan
When eating in Bhutan, you may find that the names of many dishes are with "datshi" and "paa". In Bhutanese language, "datshi" means "cheese", and "paa" is for the sliced pork or beef. Bhutanese cuisines are deeply influenced by food culture in China and India. The most significant characteristic of Bhutanese food is the combination of cheese and chili, which you can see from most dishes in Bhutan. For the best food to eat in Bhutan, we suggest you try Ema Datshi, Jasha Maru, Sikam Paa, etc.
Ema Datshi, as the national dish of Bhutan, is considered to be the most famous dish in Bhutan. As we mentioned above, "datshi" means "cheese" in Bhutanese language, and "ema" is for "chili". Generally speaking, Ema Datshi is a dish that stewed fresh red or green peppers with the local cheese, no matter fresh green peppers or dry red chilies are commonly used. In addition to peppers, different side dishes such as ferns, mushrooms, potatoes, green beans, etc. are added in some areas. It is no exaggeration to say, Bhutanese eat this dish every day, but every version is different.
Local people normally eat Ema Datshi with red rice. You can find both white rice and red rice in Bhutan, and many dishes are served with red rice. Red rice is the only kind of rice that grows at high altitudes, which is quite familiar with brown rice. This kind of rice is very healthy and nutritious, and it tastes really good. It's soft and sticky, and looks pale pink when cooked.
Shakam is a kind of dried beef in Bhutan, and it is commonly used in many Bhutanese dishes. Some people find that Shakam is similar to beef jerky. However, Shakam is not completely dehydrated, so that the taste is different from beef jerky you've tried. Bhutanese use cut the dried Bhutanese beef into bit size, and usually thicker than beef jerky. Traditionally, they simmer the dried beef in cheese and butter, and that is Shakam Datshi.
Shamu Datshi is one of the best cheese dishes in Bhutan. People cook the local mushrooms with cheese and butter, and some people will add some meat. There is another famous dish called Khewa Datshi, which is quite familiar to Shamu Datshi. But Khewa Datshi involves potatoes with cheese. Both of them are usually eaten with rice.
Jasha Maru is also called chicken stew, and it is the most popular local chicken delicacy in Bhutan. People use minced chicken and stew with tomatoes, onions, red chilies, and various spices like ginger and garlic. Although Jasha Maru tastes milder than other spicy dishes, it has a strong ginger flavor. For those who love the ginger flavor, you may find that the essence of Jasha Maru is the flavor of ginger.
Shakam Paa consists of dried beef cooked with dried chilies, and sometimes people will add radish to this dish. Like Shakam Datshi, the beef used in Shakam Paa is chewy, as it is preserved before they use, so that it is not dehydrated. Basically, local people won't cut the chilies; instead, they use the whole chilies.
Except for beef and chicken, pork is popular with Bhutanese. Phaksha Paa is a classic Bhutanese dish stewed with pork and spicy red chilies, and it can be a gravy or a stew. The chilies they use are usually dry red chilies. Sometimes people will add some vegetables such as spinach, bok choy, or radish. The pork will be cut into thin slices, and first stir-fried and then added to the dish after the vegetables are cooked.
Sikam Paa is another popular pork dish in Bhutan. Local people in Bhutan cook sun-dried pork belly with dry chilies. Sikam is similar to bacon, but it looks half-transparent, as they use streaky pork. Don't worry, this dish won't be too oily, and people who like eating bacon will love this dish so much.
Momos must be one of the most popular street foods in Bhutan. Influenced by Tibetan food culture, Momos look like dumplings, which are mainly stuffed with meat, cheese, and sometimes mixed with vegetables like cabbage. Spices such as ginger, garlic, and coriander are often added. No matter steamed or deep-fried, the flavors of Momos will be amazing. Generally, Bhutanese eat Momos with hot chili sauces called ezay. What's more, this dish is always on the table for some special occasions.