Bhutan- The Kingdom of Peppers
Bhutan is a country with the highest per-capita consumption of chilli.
One of the reasons why Bhutan is unique from the rest of the world is because of its simple yet healthy culinary lifestyle. If you are planning to travel to Bhutan to binge on all the fast-food franchised restaurants and cafes, then you are on the wrong track. Bhutan offers her visitors homely and healthy food. In rural regions, families gather around the bonfire and watch mothers cook meals for the family. Food is then served to the eldest member of the family first.
One of the distinctive qualities of Bhutanese curry is its ‘hotness’. There are several varieties of chillies being grown and used in Bhutan. “Chilli is omnipresent in the Bhutanese kitchen.” On average, a household consumes more than 1 kilo of chilli in a week.
'Ema Datsi' is the most popular chilli dish in Bhutan. Ema is just the Bhutanese word for chilli. Ema Datsi is made of chillies and cheese. Most Bhutanese dishes have chillies in some form or other. In several Bhutanese homes and restaurants, it is customary to serve ‘ezay’ Bhutanese version of chilli sauce/ pickle ’ as a condiment to the main course
Types of Chillies in Bhutan
Today, there are more than 400 different varieties of chillies found all over the world. Some of the 'hottest’ chillies are grown in Asia including the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. The “hotness" of chilli is due to a component present in it called capsaicin. Unlike what most people believe, it’s not the chilli seeds or flakes that make it spicy. Rather, it’s the inner membrane inside the chilli that contributes to the pungency.
Since chilli is the main ingredient in almost all curries, Bhutanese have learned to preserve seasonal chillis for all seasons. Bhutanese farmers in the western part of Bhutan sundry or smoke-dry chillis. A kilo of sun-dried chilli can cost more than Nu 1500/-, and it is considered the best delicacies from the west.
Most spicy chilli in Bhutan
Dalle Khursani known as the fireball is one of the hottest chillies in the world. 1-2 of these blazing red balls are enough to set your mouth on fire. Living up to its name and fame, the chilli is super-hot and is not for the faint-hearted. When fully ripen, this bright red-round-cherry-sized ball spices up all the taste buds it comes into contact with. If you are looking for some fireworks in your mouth, then Dalle Khursani is your go-to chilli.
Besides its addictive taste, Dalley Chili is known for its medical properties. With its unique taste, many Bhutanese folks have found love in this fiercest chilli. Local vendors from Tsirang and Wangdue districts are some of the main suppliers of Dalley Pickle. The fermented pickles are supplied to the rest of the districts and some are exported beyond Bhutan also.
Aside from the use of chillis on the platter, Bhutan is also a place reported to use burning chilli pepper to drive away evil spirits.