Your food guide to Bhutan.
Traditional Bhutanese food has been influenced by its neighbors, especially China, Tibet and India. But like the country itself, local cuisine is capable of retaining its unique character. It is less oil from Chinese or Indian food and spicier than most Tibetan cuisine.
When you travel to Bhutan, take a list of our six must-have Bhutan foods to sample at least once.
Emma Datshi - (Chilli and Paneer)
If there is a national dish to eat while visiting Bhutan, this is it. It is so ubiquitous that some people say that if you have not eaten EMA Datshi, you have not left for Bhutan. Locals eat stew, which is similar to red rice as well as a curry. It is made from green, yellow or red chillies, yak or cow's milk cheese, onions and tomatoes. Taste very carefully, though. Bhutan's chilli is high on the Scowell Heat Scale and to warm you enough to sweat.
Jasha Maru or Maru - (Spicy Chicken)
Although this is a mixture of chilli, onion, tomato, garlic, coriander leaf and ginger, usually made with finely diced chicken, you will sometimes be able to make it with beef. Although often called stew, the prepared dish actually contains a large portion of liquid (chicken broth). Like most Bhutanese food, it is served with red rice.
Faksha Pa - (Pork with Red Chillies)
A classic Bhutanese stew of strips of boneless pork shoulder, boiled slowly until tender with muli (deacon radish), ginger, bok choy, and you see it as chili powder. When finished, the stew is topped with dried pork and fresh green chili strips and served with rice.
Momos - (Dumplings)
This is a food that Western travelers may have sampled, as Momo has arrived in India and is similar to Chinese dumpling. Throughout the Himalayas - from Nepal and Tibet to Bhutan - these steamed buns are eaten as treats. They can be filled with almost anything, but typical fillers are mixed with minced pork or beef, cabbage, or fresh cheese such as garlic, ginger, and coriander.
Regardless of where you eat - from the elegant Aman and Uma resorts to an outdoor village festival, you'll find red rice. Red rice bread as a Bhutanese food is for the American table, but rice is probably healthier. This is because the rice trees of the Paro Valley of Bhutan where red rice is grown are irrigated with mineral-rich glacier waters. Just one serving of Bhutanese red rice will provide you 80 percent of your daily requirement for manganese and 20 percent of your phosphorus requirement.
The red color of unripe rice comes from the flavonoid anthocyanin, a cancer-fighting antioxidant. As it ripens, the color becomes a reddish or pinkish color and the texture becomes soft and sticky.
Green Tea With your meal, you will be offered a variety of drinks - black and green tea, beer and wine. But if you are lucky enough, you may be offered a glass of locally brewed Arrah (or Arg), a fermented drink made of rice, corn, millet or wheat. Ara is very similar in taste, extremely strong. Cheers!