Sunday, November 11, 2012


This was the first country I got to in this blog where I had trouble finding a recipe for the bread. I did all kinds of research, but to no avail. I could find mentions that people in Bhutan did eat bread, and that it was fairly popular as a staple to a meal. I found that Food For Life and LiveStrong both mentioned a Bhutanese red rice bread and that it was available to buy online, but no one was giving up their recipe for it. And I stumbled across documents listing certain types of bread found in Bhutan; one that is called khule interested me (a type of buckwheat pancake). But there were no recipes to make it as the Bhutanese make it. However, I did compromise and find a recipe on a gluten-free website for buckwheat pancakes. So, now I’m set with a recipe for buckwheat pancakes. Ready to go. But then again, I was assuming buckwheat flour was easy to find. I found myself standing in the middle of the store with two whiny kids, doing a Google search on my iPhone for substitutions for buckwheat flour, and came up with quinoa flour – which I CAN find. So, even though quinoa is grown on the other side of the world (in the Andes, as opposed to the Himalayas), it still made for some tasty pancakes that seemed more like a crepe hybrid. Although, I do have to state that this is my first experience with quinoa flour, and to me, I couldn’t shake that it smelled like unfired ceramics or greenware. (Just for the record, there are no leftovers.)

My buckwheat pancakes made of quinoa flour and thin as crepes. It didn't matter when covered with maple syrup.  
The main dish I made was called kewa phagsha, or spicy pork with potatoes. After boiling cubes of pork in salted water, I added chillies (I used Hungarian yellow peppers instead), potatoes, and onion. I used a lot of chili powder, some minced garlic and a little bit of ginger and black pepper.  This was a really good dish. I tried to keep the heat down by using the yellow peppers, but you can add as much spice as you prefer by using different types of chillies and peppers.

Just the right amount of spice. Too bad my kids and husband are wimps, I would've made it spicier. 
One of the most iconic foods from Bhutan is red rice. I found some at my local international grocery store, even though I had to buy a 5-lb bag of it. I sautéed green onions in butter, then added carrots and shitake mushrooms and rice to the onions. After that I added some vegetable stock, thyme and bay leaves and transferred it all to a baking dish to bake in the oven for 20 minutes. I did have to add a little more stock and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. This dish actually surprised me. It was really full of flavor and was very hearty. Although, if I make this again, I may use chicken broth instead of vegetable stock. It seems that it would make a very nice pilaf of sorts.

Red rice with all sorts of things in it. You can't go wrong with red foods. 
Finally, I had to make some kind of vegetable dish. I felt kind of bad that the past couple of countries that I’ve cooked for didn’t include much of a vegetable dish. So, this time I went with asparagus with farmer’s cheese. I love asparagus, much to my husband’s chagrin. However, my daughter was on my side on this one. Thanks to everything that’s sacred that she didn’t quite develop his taste bud defect. (To be fair, he did try it. He gagged and almost choked up trying to swallow it, but he tried it.) I sautéed the asparagus with some onions and added a little water. Then I crumbled some farmer’s cheese on top of the asparagus and let it simmer for a few minutes. This was actually my first time with farmer’s cheese, and I really liked it. The taste was similar to that of Swiss cheese, yet it was creamier like mozzarella.

Crumbling cheese for the asparagus. Sampling cheese, more like it. 
This meal brought along its own problems as well as surprises. The country as a whole came as a surprise to me, actually. There were so many things I didn’t know about this country before I started, except where it was. There’s a certain mystique about it that makes it attractive. The city-dweller in me who is constantly connected to Facebook, Twitter, my iPhone is general, my computer, and my car can’t fathom living in such an isolated rural area (even though my hometown has roughly 950 people). However, there is a part of me that wouldn’t mind so much to get away from it all. (But maybe for only a weekend or a week. Or two. Or a month.) But what I really, REALLY wish, is that if someone wants to do a service to the global community, please post some recipes for Bhutanese bread. Don’t keep this a secret. You’ve opened up your country, and we’re interested.
The final product. A masterpiece. 

Up next: Bolivia

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