To Bhutan… where everybody Wangchuck tonight…

June 4, 2015

image courtesy of http://www.flags.net

 

Bhutan. A mysterious land in the East… because I’m pretty sure we never learned about it in school. Isn’t it by Indi…Chin…yes… the answer is yes. It is right in the heart of it all. So much so that half the world’s population lives within a 2500 mile radius of Bhutan. And yet due to its location at the end of the Himalayas (or as my friend Anshula from college would lecture me, the him-AH-lee-uhs), it remained largely isolated from the rest of the world until the mid 20th century.

It’s not a big country (slightly larger than Maryland), and it’s not a populous country (same number of people as North Dakota), but it often ranks as the happiest country in Asia and in the Top Ten happiest countries in the world. Why is this? Well there are a lot of things to be happy about if you live there. Population density is one of the lowest, so there is space to breathe, the government has been stable and is the only Buddhist kingdom in the world supporting the faith with substitutes, and the ecosystem is simply wonderful. Due to prolonged isolation and remarkable pro-active conservation efforts, Bhutan’s lush plants and safe wildlife make for an idyllic, secluded, mountain kingdom. Go look up pictures, I’ll wait… really…just google images “Bhutan”…………………I KNOW RIGHT… when can we go!? Also the royal family is the House of Wangchuck… and that name is just too good.

I made a beef and mushroom Tshoem, which is “curry” in Bhutanese. Curry is of course the word meaning sauce and not always indicative of what we in the West think of when we think of the use of curry powder such as in Indian cuisine. This dish is one of my favorites so far (I’ve been saying that a lot), savory, sweet, and almost buttery. Using fresh ginger and oyster mushrooms are a must and they make the dish what it is. I even think adding more mushrooms would have been great, you can never have too many!

Our side dish was Kewa Datshi, which is potatoes and cheese. Datshi is the word for cheese and is featured in many dishes including the national dish Ema Datshi. I found this so interesting as you don’t often find cheese in Asian cuisine. The trick here is that you want to use a white farmer’s cheese; I used a Queso Blanco from the local Mexican grocery. It is not a highly seasoned dish, which is why it complements the Tshoem so well.

Next time you see me…we will be in Boliva… if you can bolieve it.

 

  


 

Tshoem (Beef and Mushroom)

2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large garlic clove (peeled)
  • Fresh ginger, peeled and cut into a 3/4-inch cube
  • 2 TBS stick unsalted butter
  • ½ pound boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 –inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion (diced/chopped)
  • 1 medium fresh green chili peppers (seeded and cut into julienne strips)
  • 1.5 oz fresh oyster mushrooms
  • Freshly ground black pepper

 

——————————————

Directions:

Chop the onion coarsely in a food processor (a few pulses). Set aside. Drop the garlic and ginger through the feed tube with the motor running and chop finely, about 10 seconds.

*you can of course use your knife skills instead of a food processor if you don’t mind slightly larger bits.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the beef, onion, water, and salt and simmer over low heat until just tender, about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and remaining ingredients and cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes.


 

Kewa Datshi

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 Potatoes (any kind other than russet – gold for a little mushy – red for firm)
  • 1/3 cup of cheese, (farmers or almost any kind of white cheese)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped red onions
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (vary amount according to your tolerance)

——————————————

Directions:

Cut potatoes into small pieces. Put the potatoes along with some oil and salt in a saucepan or pot. Add 1 and 1/2 cup of water. Cut the cheese into small pieces and when potato is almost cooked, add the cheese. You can add some chopped onions and tomatoes to taste. Don’t forget the chili powder. You don’t want too much water in this dish but don’t let it dry up completely either. Add little water every time it gets low.

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