I have heard about thermal wear and layered clothing to beat the cold weather, but Bhutanese eat their body warmers. I swear. Bhutan is a country where the rice is red and chillies are considered as a vegetable and not a spice. It is the hero of the dish and not a seasoning.
For a person who is at spice level zero( on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the least) this came as a shocking surprise. But the foodie in me can never settle until I had the dish tasted, hence gearing up with all the needed antacids, I ordered a plate of “Ema Datshi”. Yes, that’s how the name of the dish sounds! Fancy it is! Bhutanese call this chilli cheese curry by that name which also happens to be the national food of Bhutan. Though I am not a huge fan of chillies, the mere mention of cheese in the name (Datshi means cheese, Ema means chilli) was sufficient enough to draw me towards the dish.
Ema Datshi is succulent combination of spicy chillies cooked in cheesy gravy. The curry goes well with a plate of rice and truly the cheese chilli curry is a bowl full of flavours. It lingers on your palate even long after the food is consumed. Just to score brownie points, Bhutanese also cook other vegetables with cheese, be it their kewa datshi (potato cheese curry) or shamu datshi (mushroom cheese curry), these lip smacking curries are a must try when one is in Bhutan.
The other must try drink in Bhutan is their Suja or the butter tea. Am more of a coffee person, tea doesn’t appeal to me, be it in any form (am very loyal to my caffeine habits) I found the tea very buttery but there were people with me who really appreciated the taste of suja, so I suggest you people to go on and give it a shot, then decide for yourself.
I also happen to taste the typical Bhutanese meal that was served only to the monks in Tatsang Monastery. Not everyone gets this opportunity. A Bhutanese meal typically has red rice, boiled veggies, cabbage salad, chilli cheese curry and fresh colourful chillies with salt as a salad, crisy brinjal fry ( bhaigan bajji basically).
When all this gets boring there is always momos, thukpas and chowmeins that come to rescue.
To wash it all down, Bhutan offers a variety of drinks, but their local maize and rice liquor arra is consumed by majority of people. Even the monks at the monastery consume this to fight the weather.
Now if you want to behave like foreigner in a foreign country there are couple of café’s in Paro, Thimphu and Punakha that offers pizza and variants of it.