It's July, summer holidays and at long last I have time to catch up on some of the posts that I had planned to do ages ago. This post on dried meat has been waiting since the winter!
Thimphu winters are typically dry and cold. There might be some early morning frost, even the occasional snow but in general winter is a very dry time. Many Thimphu residents take full advantage of this dryness. Strings of meat and chili hung out on washing lines, on balconies and out of windows are a familiar sight all over the city during this time of year.
I love that in an age where most urban middle class families have fridges and there is a reliable weekly market with fresh vegetables that people still spend time and energy preparing vegetables and meat to dry.
Our family bought a leg of beef to dry this winter. The meat has to be cut into long narrow stripes and then hung out to dry. Its actually easier to do this messy work outdoors. Below is a family friend who helped us cut our meat up this year. You can see that we just lay out a plastic sheet and did the chopping mostly without a cutting board
We did have some very interested observers. Here is our ( greedy) family dog, eagerly and carefully watching the work being done. Don't worry he got his share of the bones!
And here is the final product hung out to dry. The meat takes several days to dry so at night we have to cover it all and guard it from birds, dogs and cats. Sadly this year we had actual human thieves come and steal a portion of our meat overnight and then our clever cat got into our storage and ate the rest of it.
So how do we eat the dry meat? It came be cut up and eaten as is, often with a chili paste. Growing up my all time favorite breakfast was " Bhutanese breakfast" -- Suja ( butter tea), rice, ezay ( chili paste) and shakam ( dried meat) that had been lightly roasted usually over an open flame. More often however we cook it with vegetables ( like dried turnip leaves ) and chili as show in the picture below.