During my latest trip to Kalimpong, my culinary journey through Bhutanese cuisine at Za Khang was the most memorable one. Za Khang may be the only restaurant in India serving authentic Bhutanese cuisine.
Juma is Bhutanese sausage that is made with minced beef, light amount of spices and rice. It is one of the favourite delicacies among the Bhutanese recipes. On your first bite, you can feel the taste of the sichuan pepper which will send a zing sensation all through your body. Sikam Paa is dried pork belly with right mix of fat and red chili. The pork belly are smoked and sun-dried till its perfectly crisp. Before serving the pork gets sauteed with dried red chilies.
Word of caution, Bhutanese love their food spicy. Hot and spicy food helps you stay warm and energized during extreme cold conditions.
Ema Datshi is a deliciously thick spicy stew made with variety of chili peppers and locally produced yak cheese. Jasha Tshoem is a spicy Bhutanese white curry prepared with chicken and spiked up with ginger, garlic, onions and chili pepper. Red Rice is staple Bhutanese cuisine, enriched with essential minerals and dietary fiber compared to white rice. Enjoy Red Rice with chili cheese and spicy curry.
It is probably the only cuisine in the world where chilies are considered as a vegetable rather than as a spice. Obvious, Eta Datshi is regarded as their national dish.
Aside this Za Khang at Kalimpong on the best places for breakfast. One of the rare eateries opens very early at 8 am. While in the mountain then breakfast has to be like locals.
Our breakfast had Balep, a Tibetan bread is crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Enjoy this with dry spicy diced potato sides (aloo dum). Without onion-garlic potato pickle, the platter would be incomplete. Wash it down with steamy Suja (butter tea). The butter tea is a staple drink of the people in the Himalayan countries prepared with salt and cow or yak butter.
I must conclude that the Himalayan breakfast is so cosy, warm, and comforting while enjoying the panoramic view of the valley from Za Khang’s rooftop.
Do you know, in Bhutanese culture desserts are not typically eaten, usually fresh fruits are served to cool things off.
If you are aware of any other Bhutanese restaurant in India please do let us know in the comments section.
My latest encounter with Bhutanese cuisine during the Bhutanese Food Festival at JW Marriott, Kolkata.