Monday, 25 August 2014

B for Bhutan

Dee:  “Last night was spent sampling the cuisine of the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan.  Before the start of the week I knew absolutely nothing about what they ate there, so it was something of a revelation.  There isn’t a huge amount of information on line but we managed to get a couple of dishes sorted out.  The only dessert type dish that we found mentioned was ‘Ngathrek Golop Lhakpa’ which seemed to be something akin to candy floss flavoured with butter tea and chilli.  It sounded interesting but there was no way we’d be able to make it in our little kitchen, so in the end we just made up a fruit salad.  The dishes weren’t divided up into starter, main and dessert.  Instead, we served up the savoury dishes and rice all together and had the fruit salad afterwards.  We decided to go with the vegetarian option this time, even though the Bhutanese diet includes meat.  We cooked enough of the savoury dishes for four people so can have the same again for lunch one day.”

Dee:  “This was the most common Bhutanese recipe available and was described as the national dish so we had to make it.  Texture-wise it was like a cross between a stew and a sauce.  I read somewhere that in Bhutan they just cooked it with chillies and cheese and only added additional ingredients for visitors, but we went for the version with tomatoes and onion.  I don’t think we used as many chillies as the recipe stated but I did fill up a small bag with them so there were quite a few in there.  It didn’t burn my mouth out, as the cheese helped to temper the heat from the chillies and gave it a tangy, salty flavour.  Its strong taste complimented the lightly spiced rice and vegetables perfectly.”
Jay:- “we have cooked something similar to this with thyme, chillies, spring onions and feta in the past but the feta was in a block rather than melted. I think this might be my new favourite version. I think it’d be great with some homemade bread for a weekend lunch.”

Dee:  “We adapted the recipe listed for Kamrupi Biryani by cooking the rice and vegetables separately, and replacing the chicken with a leek.  Both dishes were gently spiced and the flavours of all the different vegetables were retained.  These dishes required a lot of preparation and very quick cooking, and certainly didn’t suffer for not having the meat in them.

Fruit Salad
Ingredients:  chopped melon, chopped mango and chopped banana, coated with ginger syrup
Dee:  “I can’t really call this Bhutanese as we made it up, but if I find a Bhutanese dessert that we can make, or acquire a candy floss making machine, I promise to revisit this chapter.”

Soundtrack:  Music of the Bhutan, compiled and annotated by Dr J S Szuszkewicz
Dee:  “This was great.  Just what we were looking for to accompany the meal.”

Next week we’re eating Canadian style.

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