Local Foods of Bhutan
We recently assisted a travel journalist who was documenting food in Bhutan, and so inspired us to share a list of foods that you might like to study, and enjoy, when you visit.
Paro and Thimphu now boast some charming coffee stops if you need a fix of western flavours, but if you want to get deep into the real deal with Bhutanese food then let your guide know so he can take you to our local eats instead!
Some aspects of Bhutanese cuisine is heavy of the chilli, so be warned. We also like buckwheat and yak cheese.
The national dish of large chillies cooked in a creamy cheese sauce, served with every meal to add heat and flavour. We like our meals very very spicy in Bhutan, so an easy way to add heat and flavour to any meal is with a healthy serving of Ema Datsi on the side. The cheese we use is very dry and crumbly, but has a potent aroma. When cooked through we add water to allow the chilli to infuse with the cheese and make it saucy.
Fresh a dried chilli, coriander and red onion mixed into a salsa. Every kitchen makes this to their own recipe. It's excellent served with momos or to add a more tangy heat to to meal. Sometimes we use a little of the crumbly cheese curd that forms Ema Datsi as well.
Creamy soup enriched with wheat pasta and dried buffalo meat. Bhutanese version of the Tibetan “Thukpa”. The secret ingredient to Bathup is the Sichuan Flower Pepper, which adds an aromatic note through the soup and masks a little of the chilli. This is a great winter food as it warms the body and fills the tummy.
Rock hard yak cheese. You can find this at roadside stalls or markets, and sometimes at high passes. It's very easy to pack for long journeys but requires some patience to consume.
Dried beef jerky cooked in creamy cheese with chilli. Red meat is not in large supply across Bhutan, so typically we dry strips of meat in the sun to make a jerky, and this can be used in dishes like Shakam Datsi to add some protein to a feast.
Pork cubes cooked with vermicelli noodles. Pork is a lighter meat and so the glass noodles offer a more delicate match.
Dumplings filled with either cheese and onion or minced buffalo meat, wrapped in pastry then steamed. Momos are the fast food of Bhutan, offering a tasty and healthy light meal and served with a nice chilli sauce on the side. We know lots of great places for momos, and are always trying new ones when we find them.
Puta and Khule
Buckweat Noodles and Pancakes. When visiting the region of Bumthang we like to take guests to a special farm house kitchen where they still make the noodles and pancakes using traditional methods. When you visit Bumthang region we can take you to visit a local farm house and enjoy their home made buckwheat noodles and pancakes.
Large whole chilli battered and deep fried. Can’t believe the Scottish haven’t thought of this already. Truck stops often have plates of chilli chop ready to serve, along with other fried treats such as samosa or battered river fish. It may not be gourmet but it is delicious.