1. EMA DATSHI: It is often hard to explain that a spice (hot one at that) – the chilly, is used as vegetable and cooked as the main ingredient as in this ‘Ema Datshi‘ dish. The ‘Ema Datshi‘ is often declared as the national dish of Bhutan (not officially acknowledged). The ‘ema’ means chilly (often Jalapeños) and ‘datshi’ the cheese (often cottage/ cheddar). The cheese is melted over the steaming chilly into saucy dish with long halved green or red or dried chillies. Some add spices like tomato or onion, though the best “chilly cheese” dish traditionally would feature only chillies (ideally new crop of fresh chillies) with cheese and salt. Other chillies such as Cayennes can be used (but usually not habaneros though it can be mixed with bell pepper to give it a taste to heatless pepper!). It can be very hot with cayennes. The best are done with Jalapeños, not to too hot or too mild, which makes it hot and enjoyable!
  2. MENGEY: The closest to pizza from among the traditional Bhutanese dishes is ‘Mengey’. It doesn’t need an oven though. The crust is made from already cooked rice, mashed to become dough-like base spread on buttered pot or pan. The topping traditionally has been Amarantha seeds with thinly sliced cooked radish and touch of mustard. It is kept over slow heat before being served.
  3. JATSHA GONGDO: This is a speciality from the Nobgang village in the western Bhutan. It is delicate looking egg dish made from with sieved eggs that is fried but looks frosted yellow cage ball. It is crisp and ready accompanying dish to other spicy cookings.
  4. SIKAM PAA: The Bhutanese bacon is thick, arm-length long and air-dried in the space that you see that is open between attic and roofs of traditional houses. It is often dried for months, aged so that best ones would have touch of bitter taste. It is cooked with dried red chillies – cut long and sliced radish or potatoes. It is traditionally dish that is often flaunted during the festival grounds by families, who bring packed lunches – the longer the golden bacon the better. ‘Sikam’ means ‘cold dried’ and ‘paa’ denotes the meaty cut.
  5. MOMO: ‘Momo’ is the most popular Bhutanese fast food. It is dumpling with variety of fillings. The dumplings with pork, cheese, vegetables or other meat filling, is kept ready to be steamed and as the order comes, it is steamed and served, if not already steamed. It is served with chilly paste. You can get it fried as well or take them as part of soup.
  6. HOENTEY: ‘Hoentey’ is a dumpling but made from sweet buckwheat flour and fillings of buttered dried turnip greens. It comes from the western valleys of Haa and parts of Paro.
  7. EZAY: There are tomatoes that grows on trees called ‘tree tomato’ (duh). And this tree tomato called ‘lambenda’ locally is what gives to taste to the ‘ezay’ after it is roasted, peeled and then mashed with chilly flakes. The chilly is freshly flaked by slow roasting and then crushing them. While mashing, available spices such as Sichuan pepper, fresh coriander with salt can be added. Some would or not add cheese. Ezay goes along any of staples of Bhutan.
  8. JUMA: The Bhutanese sausage ‘Juma’ can have spicy tingling taste given the filling that Sichuan pepper and chilly powder mixed with dough. The ‘juma’ after filling is cold dried, which hardens over the time. The dried ‘juma’ is then cooked like other traditional Bhutanese meat dishes that is with radish, chillies and loads of fats.
  9. KHULEY: ‘Khuley’ is for those that are intolerant to ‘gluten’. It is made from buckwheat, which as you know is not a wheat! It is staple of the high central valleys of Bhutan. It is  flat bread traditionally baked over thick heated stone – often round river rocks. The color of the bread can be dark rich yellow and is made from both kinds of buckwheat found in Bhutan – the sweet or the coarse. It is always accompanied by side dish – the chilly cheese dish mentioned above, chilly paste, butter along with butter tea.
  10. KANGCHU: This is a dish that is made from pork legs cooked over long time. The pork legs is minced along with the bones and then cooked over the time till the bones becomes soft. The spices, especially, Sichuan pepper is added.

Bonus: GOEN HOGAY: This is a side dish, mostly made with long thin slices of cucumber that is peppered with chilly flakes, salt, Sichuan pepper and fresh cottage cheese. Instead of cucumber, young radish slices can be used.