HRH Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck launches the book during the Tarayana Fair on May 6, 2010, Thimphu, Bhutan. The co-authors can be seen in the background.
Its recipe contents table looks more inviting than the menus of most Bhutanese restaurants and, flipping through its pages, one can almost smell and taste the aromas and textures of succulent phaksha pa, the crunchy hogey and bitter khule.
The book ‘Foods of the Kingdom of Bhutan’ should come with a warning – Do not go through this book on an empty stomach. It accentuates hunger pangs. The book is the culmination of a common interest in food and cultures and repeated travels to Bhutan of Ernest T Nagamatsu and his son Erik Nagamatsu. Food, according to Ernest Nagamatsu, who has travelled extensively around the world, is “the common denominator leading to an understanding of the various histories and traditions of the world’s different cultures.”
Despite having culinary experiences from various cultures of the world, the two have specifically produced a cookbook on traditional Bhutanese food, simply because there aren’t any books on it. The recipes are simple and, as expected, chili, powdered or whole, is the indispensable and integral part of all recipes. The book includes a small section on trekking food and preparation and cooking of momo and buckwheat noodles.
It also puts Bhutanese cuisine in a flattering light, with its exhibition of the wild and organic vegetables like the patsha, fiddlehead fern, and the mushrooms that proudly decorate the book and the traditional wooden bowls. However, in the process, it almost evokes a sense of nostalgia, in the sense that most restaurants in Bhutan are dominated by Indian and Chinese cuisine.
An excerpt from the Kuensel by Kinley Wangmo, 16 May, 2010
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All proceeds of this book benefit the Bhutan Foundation and Tarayana Foundation.