Eating with the Dragons

about Thimphu Thimphu

Here I am, in a land that's more vertical than horizontal. Bhutan is a land of smiling people in funny clothes, tiny rivers struggling through spectacular valleys, quaint traditional homes everywhere, dark thunderclouds watching over dragons.

A buddhist country that eschews materialism is not expected to be very elaborate on food, and Bhutan does not disappoint. Their cooking can be summed up (as a blogger did rather elaborately) as "water, butter, boil". Ingredients are equally simple - potato, chilli and cheese - sometimes with chicken or pork tagged on. I wonder what the Bhutanese ate before the colonists introduced chillies and potatoes a few hundred years ago.

Chillies are a cornerstone of Bhutanese food; the drive from the airport went past many a rooftop covered with drying chillies. The local food is as spicy as anywhere in India, and chillies of all sizes and colours grace every dish, alongside the other favourite - potatoes. The local cheese tastes like cheese but (like paneer) can be boiled without melting. Meat for local recipes is either chicken or pork. Mutton is available, but seems to go into Indian food (which, of course, is everywhere too).

The staple is a local red rice, nutty in flavour but with a stickyish texture - not quite stickyrice, not quite loose grain - that takes a little getting used to.


More interesting was a spicy buckwheat noodle called Puta, delicious all on its own but nice with curries too.


Then there was Kewa Datshi, a curry of the three greats - cheese, chillies and potatoes. Its a colourful, spicy dish - tasty in spite of all its simplicity.


Finally a local salad if onions and the inevitable chillies, potatoes and cheese, called Hogay.


I'm still waiting for the Emma Datshi.

1 comment:

  1. the red rice you had looks like it has been polished. do the bhutanese people eat the red rice unpolished? how would they cook it and eat it? usually unpolished rice takes long time to cook.

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