Day four of my epic trip through western Bhutan continued with me trying some out-of-this-world Bhutanese street food at a farmers market in Thimphu, Bhutan! Come along with me as I dive even deeper into this magnificent country’s culinary scene!
I arrived at Centenary Farmers’ Market with my guide from MyBhutan, Tsheten, to start my evening. This is a weekend market that sells fresh fruit, vegetables, cereals, chilies, and more. I couldn’t wait to walk around, try some food, explore the downtown area, and end my day with some dinner!
Because it was Sunday, there weren’t that many people there. Most of the farmers had left. The best days for the market are Friday and Saturday. We first saw some different types of rice grown in Bhutan, including red rice, white rice, and roasted rice. The red rice is the most common in the country. I also tried some puffed rice and some flavorful dried apple. It cost me 30 Nu/$0.40 USD for a bag.
We passed by more rice and dried corn as we continued. There were only seven vendors in the area, so the place was pretty empty. This area was mostly grains, but then we moved on to the produce section, where we saw onions, tomatoes, lettuce, chilies, carrots, potatoes, and more! They also had some bamboo, dried mushrooms, fresh mushroom, spring onion, spinach, cauliflower, peas, and eggplant. This section was massive, with at least 200 vendors selling types of vegetables. Most of them came from India.
In the fruit section, only the mandarins, apples, and bananas were grown in Bhutan. There was also some massive sugarcane and papaya from Punakha. They prefer vegetables to fruits in Bhutan. There aren’t really any sweets or desserts in the country.
Upstairs, we saw some cabbage, garlic, ginger, potatoes, beans, cauliflower, cow cheese, and more. The cheese was the kind that’s used to make ema dashti. There’s also a section where you can find axes, rakes, knives, and other tools for farmers. I also saw a type of piggy bank made from pottery.
As we continued in the Local Farm Produce Section, Tsheten pointed out some dried pumpkin, dried green chilies, dried turnip leaves, dried white chilies, and dried red chilies. I hadn’t tried the white ones yet. This section was about half the size of the vegetable section but was still really big and full of vendors.
We came across one selling chili powders and black pepper. I learned that red chilies are more expensive than green ones. I tried one, which wasn’t hot at all. We passed by some buckwheat powder and beans, and then we found some local honey! A small bottle costs 300 Nu/$3.98 USD. It was so rich and wasn’t very thick. It was so good!
Then, we found the first Bhutanese street food I’d found in Bhutan. Street food isn’t really a thing in Bhutan like it is in other south Asian countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, so I was thrilled to come across a vendor selling some!
The vendor was selling vegetable momos, or dumplings, with a spicy chili sauce. They were so mouthwateringly good and the sauce had a nice amount of spice. The cabbage inside was so good and I didn’t find the chilis that spicy, especially compared to some of the other dishes I’d had in the country!
Maybe I was becoming immune to the heat! I made sure to soak up all of the chili sauce for my final bite. The momos were so good and only cost 40 Nu/$0.53 USD. What an amazing Bhutanese street food adventure in the capital of Bhutan!
Then, we took a 3-to-4-minute ride to the downtown area of the capital. Everything in Thimphu is quick and easy to get to, unlike Punakha, where everything was more spread out and took 30+ minutes to reach. The buildings in the downtown area had shops on the bottom and residential on the top. There were beauty salons, hotels, and lots of other businesses. I loved the architecture!
Every household has an altar room where they have statues of gods. We stopped by a jewelry shop where the jeweler made a ring with a dragon on top by blowing fire. I’d never seen anything like it! Then, we reached the main square, where lots of celebrations happen. There’s also a clocktower and some hotels. It was very quiet and peaceful. There was a film crew filming a hand sanitizer commercial there.
It was colder in Thimphu than Punakha. It reminded me of a town I visited in Andorra years ago. It’s in the Pyrenees and the capital was like Thimphu, but just older. At an intersection, we saw an officer monitoring traffic from a booth in the middle of the road. There are no traffic lights in Thimphu, but there also aren’t many cars either. It’s busier in the mornings and evenings.
Then, we headed to my hotel, Pedling Hotel & Spa, which was across the street. Inside the lobby, they gave me some lemon tea that was more like lemonade. It was super sour but so good! Then, I headed to my room, 205 on the second floor. It was in the traditional Bhutanese style with wood furniture, two low twin beds, a fridge, nice, spacious bathroom, a closet, and a TV. There was also a table with water, cups, tea, and coffee.
I relaxed for two hours and then headed downstairs to dinner at 7 p.m. I started with a local craft beer, a Bhutanese dark ale. It’s called Red Rice and is made by a brewery in Paro. It tasted similar to a dark German beer. They also have local wines, beers, brandy, and whiskey.
I ordered some red rice, mushroom curry with spring onions, and beef with glass noodles and spring onions. I wanted to keep it light since I’d eaten six momos just three hours earlier. Both of the curries looked amazing! The delicate glass noodles and beef were fantastic. The beef was tender and juicy, and the curry also contained some Szechwan peppers.
The mushroom curry was also really tasty and creamy and contained a bit of cheese. It was so good! I had had the mushrooms before in the ema dashti, which was an amazing combination. What an awesome experience trying Bhutanese street food at the farmers market in Thimphu, Bhutan!
I hope you enjoyed coming with me on the first Bhutanese street food adventure of my trip and exploring more of Thimphu, Bhutan with me! If you did, please give this video a thumbs up and leave a comment below. Also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the notification bell so you don’t miss any of my travel/food adventures around the world!