At the advent of spring, from the kingdom of happiness, Chef Tsering brings his bag packed with authentic ingredients and spices from Bhutan to create the true taste of Bhutan at the Bhutanese Food Festival inside the kitchen of Vintage Asia at JW Marriott Kolkata. An honour on the opening day of the festival to share the table with few eminent personalities
Bhutan, ranks as the happiest country globally. Yet, Bhutanese love their food to be hot and spicy. A country whose people are so sweet in nature, but they do not have desserts in their cuisine. A country that recognizes chili and cheese stew as their national dish.
Our exotic culinary journey to the Land of Thunder Dragons started with Hoentay. Hoentay is similar to momos but wrapped in buckwheat dough. Stuffed with spinach and cheese. Originated from the Haa Valley in Bhutan.
Aside there is a local street food variant, Vegetable and Cheese Momo. Try these dumplings with piping hot clear broth and Ezay (chilli garlic sauce). Oh! I dearly missed a couple of my favorites like Ema Datshi and Juma in appetizers.
Buckwheats are highly nutritious. grows in high altitudes and staple food in the Bumthang region.
Salad and Soup
In the salad, we had Goen Hogay. A mix of cucumber slices with onions, tomatoes, chili peppers, cilantro, and Bhutanese cheese. The salad is light and refreshing. Relish sip to flavoursome Kakur Jaju, a pumpkin-based soup. The creamy texture is from the blend of roasted pumpkin, milk, and cheese. Bhutanese chili oil and Thingay (sichuan pepper) to spike the soup.
Jasha Maroo is a rustic chicken stew. Diced chicken cooked with ginger, onion, and tomato. Ginger is the essence of this preparation. Touch of coriander leaves to finish the dish with. Shakam Datshi made using beef cut into bite-sized pieces and simmered with yak cheese, garlic, oil, split chilies, onion, and tomatoes.
Phaksha Paa is made using pork cooked with mountain vegetables like radish, chillies, and spices from the chef’s bag. Pork is first stir-fried and then added to the dish. The perfect fat to meat ratio of 70:30 creates magic to this dish. Enjoy curries and stew with Bhutanese Red Rice. Khuley Puta is a Bhutanese version of buckwheat pancake topped with buckwheat spagetti.
Red Rice is gluten-free, wheat-free, rich in minerals, and highly nutritious.
For the first time, I tried Dolom Ngow Ngo. Stir-fried eggplant with spices, scallion, garlic, and chilis tickled my taste buds and never tasted anything like this.
When one visits the Bumthang region must visit a local farm house and enjoy their home made buckwheat noodles and pancakes.
In the desserts section, we had Khabsey with Zaow Pudding. However, as mentioned earlier, desserts are not part of authentic Bhutanese cuisine. In this festive menu, desserts are presented through fusion culinary output.
Khabsey are traditional Tibetan deep fried cookies while Zaow are crunchy puffed rice served as munchies, a popular snacking item of Bhutan. Crunchy Khabsey is topped on the soft bed of pudding with sesame caramelized top. Mild sweetness of the dish was an excellent end to the spicy and hot gastronomic journey.
What: Bhutanese Food Festival
Where: Vintage Asia, JW Marriott Kolkata
When: 26 Feb to 10 Mar’20
Pocket Pinch: INR 2222 ++ for two (without alcohol)
Please read my detailed blog about Za Khang, India’s only Bhutanese restaurant.
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