This is a picture of a recent home cooked dinner, one my all time favorite Bhutanese meals. It might be a little hard to tell what it is from the picture but the dish consists mainly of three different dried ingredients: dried meat, dried turnip leaves and dried red chilies.
This time of year, winter time, the weather is dry and sunny and everywhere you go, even in dense urban Thimphu, people are drying food in whatever space they have available. Sometimes they have strings of red chili drying out of a window, strips of meat on a clothes line or a layer of chili laid out on a rooftop. Once again I love that despite all the change in our eating habits (for example, my mother complained again yesterday about the over-use of processed Indian cheese in Bhutanese dishes) and fridges and weekly vegetable markets and meat shops, there is still so much fondness for an old-fashion food preservation process like drying.
According to Dr Brian Nummer of the National Center for Home Food Preservation ( proof that there is a national center somewhere for everything!) drying as a food preservation technique is not only found not in every culture in world but also throughout human history. Its one of the oldest, most prevalent ways to deal with the fact that fresh food doesn't stay fresh all that long.
Over the next few posts I am going to share a little bit about how my family and other families in Bhutan dry foods and also how they cook and eat them. Join me?