Bhutan has many many lovely sceneries… from the stunning views of the Himalayas to the gho or Kira-clad Bhutanese going about their daily business, to the monks and mini-monks, and the quaint architecture of their Dzongs and temples. Food was the least of my concerns while I was there.
Vegetarians would likely not complain. Most dishes are non-meat. There isn’t also a good source of seafood outside of those brought in from India. Landlocked, there isn’t much variety in local ingredients. For the whole week I was there, I ate a lot of potatoes, vegetable dumplings and yak meat. All that accompanied by mountain rice and lots of chilies. So if you like all that carbo plus the spicy chili peppers, you won’t have any reason to complain. I guess.
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.
Momos are those dumplings much like their Chinese counterparts in appearance. The fillings differ though. The Bhutanese version has vegetables and cheese, accompanied by chili dip. Then someone told me that there was Ema Datshi on the table. I’ve read about this spicy “chili con queso” and hoped it’s asking to my favorite dish of chili relleno. Seems like this is the national dish of Bhutan, the way the locals talked about it. I didn’t waste time trying it, and then……felt I actually turned red — perhaps with nostrils flaring, smoke coming out — after just a spoonful. So. Don’t tell me you were not warned! As they say in Bhutan, “If it doesn’t make you sweat, why bother to eat it?”