Food and Drink


Lack of variety prevents Bhutanese cooking from ranking among the world’s great cuisines, but it is however quite exotic and interesting. The Bhutanese diet is rich in meat, poultry, dairy, grain and vegetables but Bhutanese cooking is usually hot and spicy.

The national dish, Emadatsi is made entirely of chillies (Ema) and cheese (datsi) thus, known as emadatsi in local language. If you are looking for dishes which aren’t spicy and hot try kewa datsi (potatoes with cheese) or shamu datsi (mushrooms with cheese).  The Bhutanese are skilled at using wild food products from the forests such as bamboo, fiddleheads, mushrooms, taro, yams, sweet potatoes, wild beans, banana flower buds, orchids and dried river weed.

Most stews contain a little meat or small bones. The fovourite meats of the northern Bhutanese are yak and pork. Beef and chicken are the second choice, while mutton and lamb are eaten by the southern Bhutanese (Lotshampas).

Scrambled eggs cooked in butter are the main ingredient of gondomaru, phaksha paa – a dish made of pork, chillies and vegetables; and tukpa – a kind of noodle soup, Bhutanese salad, eze, composed of hot peppers, soft cheese, tomatoes, and finely chopped onions, complements other dishes. There are also so many other local dishes prepared and served during the occasions.

Tea is generally considered to be the most widely consumed beverage, but it is surprising to note that in parts of central and eastern Bhutan, Ara – a drink with 20 % alcohol content, is the most common drink. There are two kinds of tea; Suja, which is tea churned with salt and butter, and Ngaja, tea brewed with milk and sugar in the Indian style. Doma is a quid made of betel nut with lime wrapped in betel leaf; it produces a red juice when chewed and is offered to somebody to express friendship and it is a symbol of sociability. Apart from its social significance, doma is an intoxicating substance on about the same level as tobacco and also has harmful effects.

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