Locked north of China, and India with the remaining three, this beautiful, green, Himalayan country is one of the few in the world that has managed to save itself to some extent. Foods very spicy, but simple preparations for which ingredients can be found almost everywhere, she stole and captured among others, and my heart. Modesty is still at stake in this country. When sitting at a table with local people, a somewhat unusual custom is still practiced - after the host offers you food, it is polite to cover your mouth with your hand, say "meshu meshu" and refuse the offer two or three times. The custom has been maintained since ancient times, when members of the immediate and extended family lived together, and when there was usually not enough to feed the household. The dishes presented in the recipes below are mostly from the eastern Monggar region whose mountain rivers are rich in trout, and whose 80% of the population is still engaged in farming growing tomatoes, onions, green bean
- 1. Trout with mandarins: Boil the trout head in water for half an hour, save the stock for later. In a wok or deep frying pan, melt the butter lightly, put the chopped onion on it, and simmer for about 5 minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Add chopped garlic and ginger to them and stir for a minute or two until they release their scent. Then add the chopped tomatoes, peeled and sliced tangerines and hot peppers, and simmer for another 15 minutes on medium heat, slowly adding the squeezed mandarin juice, and stirring. (Purchasing mandarin or orange juice will also be a good substitute.) While mixing, press the mandarins and other vegetables with a food processor and crush a little in the process. Now add the fish stock, salt and perilla seeds, and simmer for about half an hour. Finally, add the trout cut into pieces, don't forget the head and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes on low heat.
- 2. Kangchu Tshoem (Pork Legs): Boil pork legs in water until soft, about an hour and a half, and then cut them into pieces. Save about 120-150 ml from the foundation and put the legs back in the same bowl. Add salt, and all the chopped vegetables (peppers, spring onions, garlic and ginger), and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- 3. Jasha Tshoem (Chicken goulash): In a wok or deep frying pan, sauté the onion in oil for 5 minutes, add the chicken cut into pieces and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic, ginger, finely chopped tomatoes and hot peppers. Finally add salt and water, stir everything together and simmer over low heat covered for about 40 minutes. Add coriander garnish before serving.
- 4. Emma Datshi (Hot peppers with cheese): * National dish of Bhutan; the texture is like a slightly thicker stew or a slightly thinner goulash, and can be served alone or over rice. Datshi cheese is cow’s cheese, or yak cattle cheese, depending on the region, and is rarely available outside of Bhutan. A good substitute is a combination of cow's cheese and feta that are combined by hand. Put sliced onion in oil in a wok or a deep frying pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Add sliced tomato, and sliced garlic. Cut the hot peppers in half lengthwise and add the unpeeled seeds. Add water, and simmer covered for about 20 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Now reduce the temperature to low, gradually add the pieces of cheese stirring constantly with a food processor while the cheese is melting. Remove from heat after about 10 minutes. This dish is extremely spicy; to the unaccustomed I suggest reducing the number of hot peppers for the first time.
- 5. Eue Chum (Red Rice): ** Bhutanese red rice is grown in the foothills of the Himalayas, and climatic conditions make it somewhat harder than other types of red rice such as Thai, or Mexican. This rice needs a little more time to cook, it is delicious, and when cooked it will have a nice texture with a slightly "nutty" taste. In its unavailability, it should not be replaced with another red rice, but it is better to follow the same recipe with ordinary rice or barley, which are also grown in this area and used in this dish. Toss the chopped onion in the butter and simmer for about 5 minutes. Now chop and add the other vegetables (peppers, ginger, garlic) and grated tangerine peel, and simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring. Add perilla seeds, salt, water and rice, mix everything well and cook covered over low heat until the water evaporates. Stir once during cooking, but not too much; the rice will take about 45 minutes to cook.
- 6. Green beans: Boil the beans in water for about 15 minutes. Toss them in oil, add chopped garlic and ginger, and fry together for a minute. Serve with finely chopped hot red peppers. (Picture in step # 3, under the chicken goulash.)
- 7. Momo: Favorite Himalayan snacks, known equally in Nepal and Tibet. In Bhutan most often steamed. In the absence of bamboo paralysis, plain metal can also be used - in which case I recommend covering its bottom with a couple of thin salad leaves in one layer, so that the momo doesn't stick to the bottom. Knead a smooth dough from flour and warm water. Separate the balls of dough by hand and roll out a circle, approximately 8 cm in diameter, on a floured surface. Combine all the ingredients for the filling by hand, take 1 teaspoon of the filling and place in the middle of the dough circle. Screw the sides of the dough towards the top over the filling, wrap the dough on top with your fingers like a piece of candy, flatten it a little with your palm, and cut it around with your fingernail for decoration. Lay them in one layer in a steaming bowl, and steam for about 15 minutes. About 20 momo bites fall out of this mixture. This is just one of a dozen ways momo are wrapped up in Bhutan, and the Himalayas in general.
- 8. Suja tea (pictured in small blue cups): This traditional Bhutanese tea has been made since ancient times, and may taste more like soup than tea at first. It’s not for everyone’s palate, but once a man gets used to it, he becomes his admirer. The old ones used to store it in oblong wooden buttermilk for butter. The version of Suja tea presented here is the "student speed version" that students regularly prepare at home. Add tea bags to the boiled water and let them cook together for a few minutes. Then add a pinch of salt, remove the tea from the heat, squeeze and add butter. Pour everything together into a jar with a lid and shake well with your hand. Suja used to be served on special occasions, during festivals, family gatherings, while today it is in everyday use and is served alone as well as with meals. P.S. Suja is usually not this light color (unless you get foam like you do on top during painting), but it is more white coffee.
All dishes listed in the recipes are served hot, alone, or over rice. There is always at least one or two goulash, red or plain rice, and at least one type of vegetable, such as the green beans shown here, or spinach, on the Bhutanese table.