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Jenpa Lekso ! Welcome to the Bhutanese Food Site!
Cooking Bhutanese food has got to be one of the most uncomplicated ways of cooking. Yet, if you do it right, the food that you cook can be exquisite. I may be biased because I grew up eating Bhutanese food, but I've eaten all kinds of food all around the world but Bhutanese food is still my favourite.
Almost all Bhutanese meals consist of a generous helping of rice and one or more "curry" dishes. I quote curry because of a lack of a better English word. In Dzongkha those dishes are called tshoem. The rice is boiled (or steamed) and can be white polished rice (called ja chum)or a unique variety of Bhutanese rice which is pink in color (called eue chum). The pink or red sice is heavier and has a slightly nutty flavour. Outside Bhutan it can be found in some specialty food stores in some larger US cities like LA, SF and NY.
With the risk of oversimplifying things, I'd say that the basic principle behind most Bhutanese dishes is pretty simple... "Water, butter, boil!" (I'm stealing this quote from a friend). Most of the dishes are boiled in water with some oil and other garnishing. The method is so simple yet you can get a lot of dishes done this way. (A word of caution, most beginners in Bhutanese cooking tend to flood their dishes, use small amounts of water and add more as you go). The real differences comes from the main ingredients. These can be common stuff like beans or potatoes to exotic delicacies like orchids, fern fronds and canes. These can be dried or fresh, depending on the season.
One of the most distinguishing features of Bhutanese is the ubiquitous chilli. We like our food hot, and the chilli can be fresh green ones, dried red chillies or chilli powder. That may also not be enough - raw chillies can be eaten dipped in salt to accompany a dish or esay can accompany a meal. The esay serves a similar function as the pickle in Indian cooking and resembles the Mexican salsa. Cheese is another favourite ingredient and infact ema datshiis one of the most popular dishes in Bhutan. This is a super hot dish comprising mainly of chilli and cheese.
More on beverages, phaksha sikam etc. later... Im getting tired of writing. tn.