Bhutanese cuisine is essentially made of meat and most importantly – chili peppers which is an indispensable ingredient in most dishes. Free from this spice, the Bhutanese will find it unpalatable to eat. Top 3 frequent elements are being used in every Bhutanese dishes including fresh green chilies, dried red peppers or red chili powder. Everyone obsesses eating spicy food in their meals no matter they are young or old people. So, what to eat in Bhutan? Below we suggested 10 best food in Bhutan including Bhutan local food, Bhutan famous food, Bhutan traditional food (traditional food in Bhutan), food to eat in Bhutan as well as national dish of Bhutan of Bhutanese cuisine that you should try when coming to the Land of the Thunder Dragon!
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Bhutanese cuisine is influenced by neighboring countries, especially China, Tibet and India, but still retains its own unique character. Dishes here are less greasy than Chinese, Indian and spicier than most Tibetan dishes.
Here are some typical dishes of Bhutan that you must-try when visiting the happiest country in the world:
Bhutan famous food: Ema Datshi
This is the ultimate renowned and popular dish in Bhutan. Ema means chili and datshi is cheese in Dzongkha – Bhutan’s major language. You not only will eat ema datshi every day, but also see it with every meal while in Bhutan. Chili peppers – fresh green or sun-dried red peppers, chopped and cooked with cheese and lots of butter. Even though the chief ingredients are cheese and chili peppers, you’ll be arduous to find two plates of ema datshi that are exactly alike: each cooking method has its own single taste and seasoning pattern, some of which will be thin, others thick because of much cheese.
Bhutan traditional food: Kewa Datshi
Kewa means potato so that kewa datshi is a dish consisting of potatoes and Bhutanese cheese. Potatoes are normally thinly sliced, then stewed with cheese and butter. A cook sometimes adds a little chili and tomato.
What to eat in Bhutan: Shamu Datshi
The third dish is being cooked with cheese and vegetables is shamu datshi, which consists of mushrooms and cheese. Like other Bhutanese datshi dishes, you serve shamu datshi with rice. You already have noticed that it is impossible to come to Bhutan without eating dishes cooked with great amount of cheese! Datshi is probably one of the first Bhutanese words you learn.
Bhutan local food: Momo
Momo is a type of dumpling which is well-known in India, Nepal, and Bhutan – as well as throughout the Himalayas. They are similar to other dumplings around the world, which is probably originated in China and easily be found in all restaurants and street food stalls in Bhutan. You can eat hot momo with minced meat, cheese, vegetables, or with numerous ezay – a type of Bhutanese chili sauce. Moreover, momo can also be deep fried after steaming. You will absolutely savour momo while in Bhutan because this is a common snack in Bhutan.
Best food in Bhutan: Phaksha Paa
Pork cooked with red chili. Sliced pork are fried with dried red peppers and wild vegetables. The result is a palatable Bhutanese dish enclosed with rice and other datshi dishes.
Bhutan traditional food: Yaksha Shakam
If there’s any better meat than beef jerky, it’s dried yak. Yak tastes similar as beef, but a little bit stronger and more nutrients. With yaksha shakam, yak meat is dried and can be cooked in various ways. Cooking Yaksha Shakam with fermented cheese made from yak milk is one of the finest way to enjoy.
Bhutan famous food: Juma
A popular sausage in Bhutan made from ground meat, rice, and some mild spices stuffed in pig intestines. Unlike any Western countries, juma is not served with bread (hotdog) but is eaten on its own way.
Food to eat in Bhutan: Red rice
Whether you dine at luxury resorts or at a village festival, you will still come across red rice. Bhutanese eat red rice like Vietnamese people eat white rice or Americans eat bread. Red rice has a high nutritional value, because the fields in the Paro valley where red rice is produced which are fertile with water include a large mineral content. One serving of Bhutanese red rice provides 80% of Manganese and 20% of Phosphorus needed for the body. The red color of uncooked rice comes from natural anti-cancer agents. After cooking, the color turns light red or pink and also becomes soft and pliable.
Bhutan famous food: Ezay
It is impossible not to mention ezay – the word used to refer to any type of chili sauce in Bhutan. You might think chutney is not totally a dish… But in Bhutan, ezay is a must for every dish so it can be considered a separate dish in itself. It’s better look like salad style than a chutney. Every Bhutanese has their own recipe for making ezay which includes dried chilies, Sichuan peppercorns, tomatoes, and a bit of cheese.
Bhutan traditional food: Suja
Made from tea or natural herbs, yak butter and salt. This is a traditional drink of the High Himalayas and has a great warming effect in the winter.
In Bhutan, traditional food is served in pretty wooden bowls, you may often get these wooden bowls at traditional restaurants or homestays. However, because of wooden bowls hardly cleaned and inconvenient, they are getting decline in daily life in Bhutan.
Like many neighboring countries in Asia, the traditional way of eating is using your hands. If you use a knife and fork with a wooden bowl, it will scratch them so eating with your hands will be the best policy. One of the traditional ways to eat Bhutanese food is to hold small balls of red rice, then dip it into a plate of savory food.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Bhutan you can refer to
- 5D4N Classic Bhutan Tour
- 9D8N Classic Bhutan Tour
- Thimphu Private Car Charter
- 6D5N Dagala Thousand Lake Trek
- 6D5N Druk Path Trek
- 14D13N Laya – Gasa Trek
- 7D6N Classic Bhutan Tour
- 8D7N Classic Bhutan Tour
- 6D5N Classic Bhutan Tour
Read more: The fullest Bhutan travel guide blog for a wonderful trip to Bhutan for the first-timers and Bhutan guide here.