The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chillis are an essential part of nearly every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy.
Rice forms the main body of most Bhutanese meals. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef, and chicken are the meats that are eaten most often. Vegetables commonly eaten include Spinach, pumpkins, turnips, radishes, tomatoes, river weed, onions and green beans. Grains such as rice, buckwheat, and barley are also cultivated in various regions of the country depending on the local climate.
The following is a list of some of the most popular Bhutanese dishes:
Ema Datshi: This is the National Dish of Bhutan. A spicy mix of chillis and the delicious local cheese is known as Datshi. This dish is a staple of nearly every meal and can be found throughout the country. Variations on Ema Datshi include adding green beans, ferns, potatoes, mushrooms or swapping the regular cheese for yak cheese.
Momos: These Tibetan-style dumplings are stuffed with pork, beef or cabbages, and cheese. Traditionally eaten during special occasions, these tasty treats are a Bhutanese favourite.
Phaksha Paa: Pork cooked with spicy red chillis. This dish can also include Radishes or Spinach. A popular variation uses sun-dried (known as Sicaam).
Hoentoe: Aromatic buckwheat dumplings stuffed with turnip greens, datshi (cheese), spinach and other ingredients.
Jasha Maru: Spicy minced chicken, tomatoes and other ingredients that is usually served with rice.
Red Rice: This rice is similar to brown rice and is extremely nutritious and filling. When cooked it is pale pink, soft and slightly sticky.
Goep (Tripe): Though the popularity of tripe has diminished in many countries it is still enjoyed in Bhutan. Like most other meat dishes, it is cooked with plenty of spicy chillis and chilli powder.
Meals during the trek in Bhutan:
Breakfast usually include Toasts, choice of eggs, some additional protein, cereals, Juice, tea/coffee. Sometimes baked beans, bacons, Indian Puri, Oatmeal, Tibetan breads and such are provided for variety
Lunch is often a packed that consist of fried rice or noodles, boiled potatoes or chapattis, Sandwiches, and fruits. It is normally accompanied by Juice and tea or instant coffee from a large hot-water flask. Sometimes our cook loads a lunch horse with a gas stove and a basket of food and produces a hot lunch on the trail.
In the evening at the campsite, almost immediately on your arrival, tea/coffee and other beverages are provided with some snacks, while the cooks prepare your dinner.
Dinner is a full course comprising of soup, 3-5 varieties of dishes, followed by desserts and Tea/Coffee. The main course dinner include rice dish, a potato dish or, frequently both, meat and vegetables. Sometimes the cooks will prepare Indian breads, Momos or dumplings and other delicacies. Occasionally you will also be a treated to tempered traditional dishes. You will be asked for any preferences and you can discuss this with guide and cook.