The Must-have Dishes on Your Bhutanese Food Platter

Author: Srikanth Krishna on Mar 05,2020

Food or love? Obviously love for food. What’s the best you can have when you are in Bhutan? No! We are not talking about the amazing traveling experience you will be having here but the food here must be on your bucket list for Bhutan vacation. Most of the people go for fancy restaurants and fancy dishes, but the local cuisine is surely going to melt your heart. As they say, a way to someone’s heart is via their stomach.

You can spend less than $100 per day and eat until you get full. The best way to explore this country is on foot as this gives you an insight into the home cuisines you can have. You need to save lots of energy and eat a high carb diet to hike up the mountains here. The area is filled with amazing mysteries and lovely food. Every cuisine will taste different when you have it at different restaurants. The best thing about their food is the quality and the fresh organic herbs that are used in it. Most of the locals prepare their food with the help of garden-fresh food. 

Whenever you travel to Bhutan for your next vacation you must go for these amazing dishes that we have curated just for the foodie in you. You can relish these whenever and wherever you want. However, let us warn you that you can’t stay away from the chilli side of it as it is a country where people love having spicy food. 


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Here we present you the food you must have on your next vacation:

Ema Datshi

A mouthwatering combo of chillies and cheese. You may get different versions of it as every chef has their own recipe to prepare it. The cheese used is not the regular one but the one made especially made from the Yak’s milk. It is very creamy and the chillies used could be yellow, green or red. You can ask them to prepare the meal according to your chilli resistance. It is a national dish of Bhutan and your Bhutan excursion is incomplete without it. It is creamy and spicy, the best combo you can ever have. In fact, it is prepared to be eaten with every meal. Go gaga over this Ema Datshi and pack some for your further journey or take back home. 

Jasha Maroo or Maru

A Bhutanese touch to the chicken. It is the best thing that happened to a chicken dish. You can enjoy this spicy preparation with Red rice which is again a feather in the cap of Bhutan’s food and its creativity. It is made with chillies and lots of chillies with tomato, garlic and coriander playing a sidekick. A yummylicious stew is prepared with loads of chicken in it and you can sip the curry it forms. The chicken melts away in your mouth and leaves behind a tasty flavor for you to keep in your hearts forever. 


Dumplings originated in Tibet but the legacy was carried to the neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bhutan too. The dumplings found here are quite similar to the Chinese dumplings but the flavours are very distinctive. They offer a large variety here and you can simply ask for your favourite. The fresh cheese that goes into them is surely worth trying. All the stuffings have a hint of garlic and chillies in it. You can have different varieties every day and still not get bored of it. 

Shamu datshi

It's another staple dish of Bhutan and you may find it in every household. People love eating it and it is a kids favourite. If you love mushrooms then you are surely going to love it but, if you are allergic to mushrooms then avoid eating it as it is all about the mushroom and cheese. Bhutanese love spices and cheesy food and hence, their staple dishes are overloaded with it. You can taste the best here and never fall short of it. It is surely going to fill your tummy and heart with loads of cheese and mushrooms. It is a delight for vegetarians and can be eaten at any time of the day. 

Shakam ema datshi

Do you love beef? And cheese? And loads of butter? If yes then this dish is meant just for you. You can not escape Datshi i.e cheese when you visit Bhutan. The beef would have never tasted so good before. Trust us you can never leave Bhutan without having tasted this amazing dish. The beef is finely diced and dried and preserved. Once the beef is prepared it is then tossed into butter and when it's partially fried cheese is added to it. Every chef has their own process and the taste may vary slightly. You can take away the recipe home and you can impress your folks with it.

Shakam paa

Whenever we cook food we dice or slice the chilli but the Bhutanese like tossing it as full. You can keep up with the spicy food here but the way they treat beef in their dishes, you are surely going to fall in love with it. Shakam is basically dried and preserved beef, they like making it little chewy so that the taste can be relished with every bite. They love preparing dishes with authentic nature in them. Shakam paa is basically beef tosses with chillies and few veggies and the result is going to make you eat more than 2 portions at least. 

Sikam paa

Have you ever tried bacon? Bhutanese have taken it to another level. Some might not love the way it is prepared but when you visit the restaurants or homes where the half-transparent belly of pork is being dried up in the sun, you can estimate it to be a sign that Sikam Paa is being prepared. Sikam basically means sun-dried pork belly which is then minced or sliced up to be tossed on with chillies. When you are in Bhutan you cannot escape the heat of chillies. It is a very heavy dish as it is prepared with loads of oil and butter. It’s one portion is enough to keep you full till your next or next to next meal.

Yaksha shakam

What can all of Yak be made of Yak? Yak cheese is very famous in the markets of Bhutan, but have you tried its meat? It is quite similar to beef but a better version of it. Once you taste its meat then there is no going back. The Yak meat is diced up and the dried up for the final cook. You can taste heaven in it. The nutritional value of this dish is at par and you will end up choosing Yak meat over anything. One the meat is ready you can prepare it in multiple ways, however Bhutanese love tossing it in some chillies and butter. The best way to have it is with red rice.

Red Rice

We have been talking about the red rice in almost every dish mentioned above, but what exactly is red rice? Just the way Americans can’t go without bread the same way Bhutanese can’t go without the red rice. You can find it everywhere in Bhutan from fine dining restaurants to the local villages. They are your best bet, you can even take a few kilos back with you. It is the healthiest rice you can eat. It has cancer-fighting antioxidants and is a rich source of Manganese and phosphorus.  It gets its quality from the way it is grown the water used is the one from glaciers which is rich in minerals. You can’t deny the health benefits it has and how tasty it is. 

Gondo Datshi

How can Bhutanese be too good with their food dishes, this is what we think for sure as there is no way one can escape the goodness of the dishes they prepare. Try their scrambled eggs and you will not go back to the regular ones. You can taste the goodness of the scrambled eggs along with some dried chillies and obviously cheese with loads of butter. It is a synonym of heaven for the egg lovers. Try this Gondo Datshi prepared with Yak cheese and chillies and the best eggs. You can either have it with some red rice or can simply with a fork. 


There is nothing fancy about this dish. It is made from sausage which is carefully minced and then dried up to be tossed into the cheese and chilli. However, the taste may vary across Bhutan as few like it bland without spices and some love to cook it with whole lots of spices that leaves a zesty taste on your taste buds. It is not much hyped up the dish but the way Bhutanese prepare it, it is considered one of the best meals prepared here. We suggest going for the spicy options as the taste is unmatchable and what’s the use of being in Bhutan when you have to eat food which is not spicy. 

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