Nestled in the Himalayas, Bhutan is at the crux of a culinary crossroads; it mixes elements of Chinese, Indian, and Tibetan cuisine. This creates a truly unique experience for travelers visiting the region. If you are the type of person that enjoys a little spice, Bhutan is the place to find it. Its most popular dish, ema datschi’, is made of very hot chili peppers cut into strips and served with a spiced cheese sauce. Bhutan food is definitely not for the bland palette as it uses a variety of meats, beans, rice and of course, spices. If you are up to a culinary challenge, you will be handsomely rewarded!
Staples of Bhutan food include red rice, which has a wonderfully nutty flavor, buckwheat, lentils and corn. Meat is also used very often, and you will find that cuisine from the hills uses a lot of chicken, pork, mutton and yak. On cold days, the locals will eat dried vegetables with chilies and cheese. The diet here consists of high protein and healthy fats, with cheese and dairy mixed in. They also make use of leftovers by frying them with rice for snacks.
A popular ingredient in Bhutanese food is Yak and not a morsel is wasted. The locals use the animal to produce milk, butter, cheese and will consume the meat. Similar to other meats, yak is normally prepared with vegetables and chilies.
Food here is often very simple. For instance, asparagus grows well in Bhutan and is boiled or steamed and served laced with butter. Other common vegetables of the area include mushrooms, radish, potato, onion, and cabbage. Dishes are created by combining these basic elements and adding some chilies.
It is important to understand the cuisine of Bhutan, but also important to understand the culture. When you are offered food say, “meshu meshu” and cover your mouth with both hands. By doing this you are refusing the food. After doing this a few more times you may accept. This is considered polite and is a part of their culture. Once you accept the offering, be ready for the heat of the food. Bhutan may have a considerably cold climate, but they make up for it with the exceptionally fiery food. Most professional chefs can accommodate Westerners who are not used to intense spice, but if you are up for a challenge, order your food Bhutan style!