Bhutan Food and Drink

There is a fair choice of restaurants in Paro and Thimphu but most tourists eat in their hotels where hygiene is good and chefs temper the spicy Bhutanese dishes to suit Western tastes. Rice is the staple (sometimes flavoured with saffron or of the red variety) apart from in central Bhutan where the altitude makes rice cultivation difficult. Buckwheat is more common here. The country is replete with apple orchards, rice paddies and asparagus, which grows freely in the countryside and there are over 400 varieties of mushroom including orchid mushrooms.

Specialities

• Datse (cow's milk cheese), sometimes served in a dish with red chillies (ema datse).
• Tshoem (curry), usually served with rice.
• Eue chum (pink rice), a nutty-flavoured variety unique to Bhutan.

Things to know

Meals are often buffet-style and mostly vegetarian. Meat and fish are now imported from nearby India, and Nepali Hindus living in Bhutan are licensed to slaughter animals. Usual precautions apply.

Tipping

Not widely practised.

Regional drinks

The most popular drink is tea, sweet or Tibetan style with salt and butter. Ara is a spirit distilled from rice.
Chang (a kind of beer, cereal-based and generally home-brewed).
Legal drinking age: 18.

Edited by Jane Duru
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