Food Culture in Bhutan

Food culture in Bhutan is deeply influenced by the landscape, as Bhutan is nestled in the Himalayas. Meanwhile, eating habits in Bhutan are affected by neighboring countries like China and India. Bhutanese love spicy food so much that they add chilies to almost every dish, and it is the most distinctive feature of Bhutanese cuisine. And the combination of chili and cheese makes Bhutanese cuisine even more special. Let's read on to know more information about eating and drinking in Bhutan.

 

Cheese and Chili

To be honest, food in Bhutan is extremely spicy. For Bhutanese, chilies are considered a kind of vegetable, instead of a seasoning. Local people will add dried and fresh chilies whatever dishes they cook, and they also like to make a salad with raw chilies. It seems that Bhutanese can't live without chili. No matter which city you travel to, you could find all kinds of spicy food. Surprisingly, it's common to find popsicles with chilies in Bhutan.

 

Food culture in Bhutan

Dishes in Bhutan

 

As Bhutan is a mountainous country, local people love dairy products very much, in order to supplement heat and moisture, especially cheese and butter. There are plenty of dishes cooked with cheese and chili, whether paired with vegetables or meat, it is a good choice. The national dish of Bhutan consists of chili and cheese, which is called Ema Datshi. Literally, your Bhutan trip won't be complete without tasting Ema Datshi.

 

Ema Datshi

Ema Datshi

 

For people who can't eat spicy food, you could try other dishes cooked with cheese, such as Kewa Datshi and Shamu Datshi. Kewa Datshi consists of potato cooked with cheese, while Shamu Datshi is mushroom with cheese. Anyway, you'd better be prepared that most dishes in Bhutan are spicy and hot.

 

Balanced Portion of Vegetables and Meat

Most Bhutanese believe in Vajrayana Buddhism, which is the state religion of Bhutan. Lots of local people usually have a vegetarian diet, but it's common for them to eat meat like pork, beef, and chicken. Generally, they cook the meat with vegetables, such as onions, spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, radishes, pumpkins, etc.

 

Food in Bhutan

Food in Bhutan

 

Tibetan-style Food and Drinks

Bhutan is surrounded by the Himalayas, lying in the north of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. As a result, the cuisines of Bhutan are deeply influenced by the Tibetan-style food culture. The staple food of Bhutan is red rice, buckwheat, highland barley, and local people eat beef, mutton, pork, and Yak meat. For drinks, Bhutanese loves to drink butter tea and highland barley wine. Residents in some places often use grains and fruits to make rice wine or fruit wine.

 

Rice is essential to Bhutanese, and they plant both white and red rice. It's worth mentioning that 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.

 

Red Rice

Red Rice

 

Cuisines of Bhutan

Ema Datshi, as the national dish of Bhutan, is highly recommended. Generally, fresh red or green peppers are stewed with the local cheese, which is known as Datshi. 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. Make it a must to try Ema Datshi when you're in Bhutan.

 

Jasha Maru is the most popular local chicken delicacy in Bhutan. People use minced chicken and stew with tomatoes, red chilies and various spices, although it tastes milder, it has a strong ginger flavor.

 

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. For special occasions, this dish is always on the table.

 

Phaksha Paa is a classic Bhutanese dish stewed with pork and spicy red chilies. Sometimes people will add some vegetables such as spinach, bok choy, or radish.

 

Eating Habits in Bhutan

Bhutanese usually eat with hands, and sometimes with spoons. Before eating, drinking, or drinking tea, people will throw a little food, tea and wine into the air so as to pray for God's blessing. When dining in a group, both the host and the guest will wait for everyone to be served. When they start eating, Bhutanese will have some drinks and talk with each other. During the meal, they usually do not talk, and the guests will leave immediately after the meal.

 

Eating Habits in Bhutan

Eating Habits in Bhutan

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