The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chilies 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 chilies 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, and mushrooms, or swapping the regular cheese for yak cheese.
- Momos: These Tibetan-style dumplings are stuffed with pork, beef, cabbages, and cheese. Traditionally eaten during special occasions, these tasty treats are a Bhutanese favorite.
- Phaksha Paa: Pork cooked with spicy red chilies. This dish can also include Radishes or Spinach. A popular variation uses sun-dried (known as Sikaam). Hoentoey: Aromatic buckwheat dumplings stuffed with turnip greens, datshi (cheese), spinach, and other ingredients.
- Jasha Maru: Spicy minced chicken, tomatoes, and other ingredients that are 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 chilies and chili powder.