Chilies are a regular ingredient in many dishes in Bhutan, so it’s not surprising that the national food, ema datshi, involves a heavy dose of chilies.
Ema datshi is a curry made of chili and cheese – ema locally means chili, and datshi means cheese – and is eaten almost daily. It is very easy to prepare; cooking time usually takes just around ten minutes. It also requires simple ingredients, such as tomatoes and onions.
This curry is served with red rice.
Phaksha pa is a traditional pork dish in Bhutan. Cooked with radish and chilies, this dish has a tinge of spiciness, another example of the hot food that the Bhutanese enjoy so much.
Phaksha pa is prepared by first stewing pork with daikon and chili powder. Fresh chilies, bok choy, dried pork, and ginger are then added. The ingredients are stirred together.
This dish is served with rice.
Momo is a Tibetan delicacy that is now also part of the Nepalese and Bhutanese cuisine. Some parts of India also enjoy this dumpling.
There are different fillings for momos. Chicken and pork are normally used as fillings, but cheese momos are a particular favorite in Bhutan.
The momo dough is only made from flour and water. After being kneaded thin, the dough is cut into small round pieces. A spoonful of filling is then placed on each dough piece, and then the dough is sealed and pleated depending on the desired shape of the momo.
Momos are served with sauce and added to soups.
Thukpa is a noodle soup popular not only in Bhutan but also in Nepal, Tibet, and some parts of India. There are several variations of thukpa, which means that most ingredients vary. The only thing that’s constant is the egg noodles.
Vegetables such as onion leaves, tomatoes, and mushrooms are often tossed into the soup. Meat or momos may also be added, although the soup is also delicious without them.
Suja is a butter tea served during breakfast. Other than butter and tea leaves, salt, and milk are often added to complete the preparation of this drink.
Making suja is easy, but it can be time consuming. The tea leaves must first be boiled in water for some minutes or until the water turns dark. The tea should be then filtered into a churner. Salt and milk are added. Churn it for around three minutes, and then pour it into a bowl.
A blender can also be used for churning. Now if neither churner nor blender is available, you could also just shake the tea vigorously.
Suja is best drunk hot and goes well with the sweet yellow Bhutanese rice called desi.