The food in Bhutan is some of the most unique in the world. The dishes below may only be found in Bhutan as they are not typically found in the rest of the world. Bhutan avoids using preservatives and artificial products in their cuisine and nearly everything served in Bhutan was grown or raised in Bhutan. In 2013 the government shared that Bhutan will be the first country on the planet with one hundred percent organic farming. Read more about the food in Bhutan below!

Food in Bhutan

Ema Datshi, the national dish of Bhutan

Ema Datshi


The national dish of Bhutan is called Ema Datshi. This Bhutanese cuisine is similar to a stew, and is made up of chilies, cheese, and is typically very spicy. In the language of Dzongkha, ‘Datshi’ means cheese and ‘Ema’ means chilies. The chilies are cut lengthwise and the seeds and ribs are then removed. The chilies are then mixed with cheese, garlic, water, and oil. Khewa Datshi is another variation of the dish that uses thinly cut potatoes, tomatoes, and is cooked with cheese and butter. All of the various forms of Datshi are eaten with generous portions of white, brown, or red rice. Read more on the Wikipedia page for Bhutanese cuisine.

Red Rice


Red Rice is known as the staple food of Bhutan. The majority of red rice is grown in the Paro Valley of Bhutan, which provides very rich soil from mineral-rich glacier water. The rice is medium-grain rice that cooks faster than other types of rice because it is only partially milled. The red color appears after being cooked as some of the bran is left on the rice. The rice is very rich in minerals and is wheat and gluten-free, making it a very nutritious dish that is known for its nutty/earthy taste all throughout Bhutan. Book a Bhutanese cuisine tour here!

Red rice served with many dishes in Bhutan
a popular Bhutanese dumpling, momos



Momos are another popular dish in Bhutan that is typically saved for special occasions. It is a Tibetan style dumpling that is stuffed with beef, pork, or cabbage. They appear very similar to Chinese steamed dumplings, but they are filled with much more elaborate ingredients like cheese. This dish is one of the many staples of Bhutanese cuisine. Read more about them here.

Phaksha Paa


Phaksha Paa is a Bhutanese dish made with pork and red chilies. Paa is a curry with a meaty pork stew and gravy. The pork is sliced and stir-fried with dry red chilies, bok choy, and ginger. Radishes, spinach, and other mountain vegetables may also be added. Bok Choy is also used frequently in fresh salads. There are also numerous variations of Phakshaa Paa such as Shakam Paa, which is high in protein. The dish includes dried beef slices cook with dry chilies, onions, potatoes, and radishes. Sicaam Paa is another variation of the original dish that includes sun-dried pork belly that is fried with dry chilies. Yaksha Shakam is the last variation of the dish that used dried yak meat instead of pork.

Bhutanese cuisine (phakshapaa)

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