Beating the chill with chillies.

Fresh chillies in the market, chillies drying on rooftops,  menacing looking chillies in jars, and milder chillies dipped in batter and fried. Chillies with ginger, garlic and meat turned into pickle, fiery red powder made of chillies, chilli sauce infused with lemongrass and to top them all, ema datshi – a chilli and cheese stew that is heavenly with rice on a damp, cold, beautiful day.

Chillies are everywhere in Bhutan, so much so that locals can’t imagine a meal without this ‘vegetable’. Now neither can I. It is fascinating how ingredients so foreign to our land become integral to our meals. Wish people found it this easy to belong, anywhere.

Red chillies, Bhutan
Chillies drying outside a house in Paro, Bhutan

Text by Tintu Saleem | Photos by Sukrit Nagaraj


 

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