Bhutan’s Most Popular Foods

The cuisine in Bhutan is varied and each region has its own specialties. You’ll find lots of dairy—from both yaks and cows—a wide variety of fresh vegetables, and spices such as cardamom, ginger, caraway and turmeric. Meat and poultry dishes are usually served in the form of stews or curries and all meals are accompanied by either white or red rice, which has been steamed or boiled. Buckwheat and maize are sometimes substituted for rice.

Buckwheat noodles in Bhutan

The Bhutanese like their food spicy—chilies are not considered a seasoning, but a vegetable that is served with pretty much everything. (Don’t worry, they do make allowances for western palates.)

Chilies in Bhutan

Here are some of Bhutan’s most popular foods.

Ema datshi is similar to chili con queso and is considered the national dish. This spicy mix of chilies and delicious local cheese is a staple at most meals. For the Bhutanese, it is often THE Meal. You may see variations with added ingredients such as green beans, ferns, potatoes or mushrooms. Occasionally the cheese is substituted with yak cheese.

Ema Datshi

Momos are Tibetan-style dumplings, which are stuffed with pork, beef, cabbage or cheese. These favorite treats are traditionally served at special occasions (or anytime Beth is leading the tour because they are her favorite).

Momos from Bhutan

Phaksha paa is pork cooked with spicy red chilies. You may also find radishes or spinach in the dish.

Jasha maru is a dish containing spicy chicken, tomatoes and other ingredients.

Jasha Maru

Jasha Tshoem is a curried chicken dish.

Jasha Tshoem

Red rice is similar to brown rice in that it is extremely nutritious and filling. It turns pale pink when cooked, and is soft and slightly sticky.

Sura is a salted butter tea that is served at social occasions.



Hungry? Come join us on one of our upcoming tours to Bhutan!

Embrace life,


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Photo credits:

Buckwheat noodles – yosoynuts via Flickr

Chilies – Beth Whitman

Ema Datshi & Red Rice – Doug Knuth via Flickr

Momos – Ritesh Man Tamrakar via Flickr

Jasha Maru – matyas X via Flickr

Jasha Tshoem – Bossi via Flickr

Sura – Shoestring via Wikimedia Commons

About Pat Awmack

With 25+ years in the travel industry, Pat was the Client Liaison at WanderTours and contributed a number of articles to the website.