At the advent of spring, from the kingdom of happiness Chef Tsering brings his bag packed with authentic ingredients and spices from Bhutan to create the true taste of Bhutan at the Bhutanese Food Festival inside the kitchen of Vintage Asia at JW Marriott Hotel Kolkata. Our exotic culinary journey to the Land of Thunder Dragons started with Hoentay. Originated from the Haa Valley in Bhutan, Hoentay is similar to momos, but they are made with a buckwheat dough wrapper. The dumplings are filled with a combination of spinach and cheese. Aside there is a local street food variant Vegetable and Cheese Momo. Try these dumplings with piping hot clear broth and Ezay (chilli garlic sauce). In salad, we had Goen Hogay – a light and refreshing salad where slices of cucumber are mixed with onions, tomatoes, chilli peppers, cilantro, and Bhutanese cheese. Before heading to the main course, relished sipping to flavoursome Kakur Jaju, which is a pumpkin-based soup where roasted pumpkin is blended with milk and cheese to give a creamy texture and spiked with Bhutanese chilli oil and Thingay (sichuan pepper). Moving to mains, Jasha Maroo is a rustic chicken stew. Diced chicken cooked with ginger, onion and tomato. Ginger is the essence of this preparation. Touch of coriander leaves to finish the dish with. Shakam Datshi made using beef which is cut into bite-sized pieces and simmered with yak cheese, garlic, oil, split chillies, onion, and tomatoes. Phaksha Paa is made using pork cooked with mountain vegetables like radish and blend of spices from chef’s bag and chilies. Pork is first stir-fried and then added to the dish. The perfect fat to meat ratio of 70:30 creates magic to this dish. All these sorts of curries and stew can be enjoyed with Bhutanese Red Rice. For the first, I tried Dolom Ngow Ngo. It is a stir-fried eggplant with spices, scallion, garlic and chilis tickled my taste buds, never tasted anything like this. Khuley is a Bhutanese version of the pancake is made from buckwheat. Also, there is Puta – a Bhutanese version of spaghetti, again made from buckwheat. In the desserts section, we had Khabsey with Zaow Pudding. Khabsey are traditional Tibetan deep-fried cookies while Zaow is crunchy puffed rice served as munchies, a popular snacking item of Bhutan. Crunchy Khabsey is topped on the soft bed of pudding with sesame caramelized top. The mild sweetness of the dish was an excellent end to the spicy and hot gastronomic journey.
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