What is Red Rice and Why it is a Famous Food of Bhutan

posted in: Bhutan, Destinations, Lunch, Recipes | 6

We all know rice is a staple throughout the world, but what is red rice? Here is the lowdown on organic red rice from Bhutan, as well as how to cook it.

There are certainly health benefits of eating red rice. Red rice is a famous food of Bhutan. The organic, red rice Bhutan produces is of the highest quality. And Bhutan exports red rice to all parts of the world. And our simple recipe will make sure you are making red rice in no time.

What is Red Rice and Why it is a Famous Food of Bhutan www.compassandfork.com
Red rice color varies from a pink tinge to red/brown

Bhutan features as our travel and food destination this month. If you really want to visit somewhere which is truly unique (a totally over-used word by marketers) then you should consider a Bhutan visit. The culture of Bhutan, the scenery and the festivals in Bhutan are all truly unique.

But what can you expect of Bhutanese cuisine?

Bhutanese Cuisine

What is Red Rice and Why it is a Famous Food of Bhutan www.compassandforkBhutanese cuisine is primarily vegetarian but you will find meat, especially chicken and pork, as well as imported fish. The vegetarianism stems from Bhutan’s Buddhist principles of not harming any living thing. So, the Bhutanese treat meat, as in most Asian cultures, as “just another ingredient” and use it in small quantities.

Cafes and restaurants will serve all of your food at the same time. Lunch or dinner will consist of many small dishes (usually 6 or 7). Organic red rice (or white) and ema datshi, a cheese chili recipe, will usually be 2 of the dishes. Potato, eggplant, mixed vegetable and spinach dishes are common. You might also have a pork or chicken dish. In Western Bhutan look for and enjoy organic buckwheat dumplings, called hoentay.

There is a strong Indian influence in Bhutanese cuisine. Bhutanese love their food spicy, but they tone it down for tourists! Some regions in Bhutan observe periods of strict vegetarianism, which may last a month. This means when visiting during these times meals consist of only vegetarian dishes.

The vegetarian meals are superior in taste to the meat meals. And they will satisfy even the most avowed meat-eater (such as me). Bhutan is also strongly organic and anti-GMO, so Bhutanese cuisine is high in taste and goodness.

You will also likely taste Butter Tea, tea flavored with butter and salt. If you are into “bullet proof coffee” you might enjoy this alternative.

During peak season, hotels will serve food buffet-style. However, the best hotels in Bhutan, such as the Zhiwa Ling in Paro, will serve cooked to order meals.

What is Red Rice?

So, what is red rice? Red rice is a medium grain rice which grows in the Eastern Himalayas. Producers semi-mill the rice, meaning some of the red-colored husk remains on the rice. It takes longer to cook than white rice but less time than brown rice. Brown rice has all of the brown-colored husk remaining on the grain.

Red, light-red, dark-red or light-pink-red will be the color of your rice. The color will depend on the exact variety and how much husk the producer mills from the rice. The taste is slightly nutty but agreeable. It has excellent nutritional benefits.

So when someone asks you, “What is red rice?”, now you know. Red rice from Bhutan has an excellent reputation. You can purchase from good, health food stores.

How to Make Red Rice

What is Red Rice and Why it is a Famous Food of Bhutan www.compassandfork.com
Organic red rice at the Thimpu Market

It is simple to make red rice. But be aware the cooking time is dependent on how much husk the producer removes from the grain. So, cooking times vary depending which brand you purchase. Look for the instructions on the packet and continue to cook to your taste. Cooking times can vary between 20 and 45 minutes.

Once you know how to make red rice, make it with some of the other famous foods of Bhutan. It goes well with ema datshi and a dragon warmer for a true experience of Bhutanese cuisine.

And now you know the answer to the question of, “What is red rice?”. Spread the word, it is healthy for you.

Tashi Delek.

We traveled in Bhutan as guests of Yangphel Adventure Travel. As always, all opinions are our own.

What is Red Rice and Why it is a Famous Food of Bhutan www.compassandfork.com

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What is Red Rice and Why it is a Famous Food of Bhutan www.compassandfork.com
What is Red Rice and Why it is a Famous Food of Bhutan
Print Recipe
Print Recipe
Cooking red rice is much the same as cooking other rice varieties. Some producers remove more husk resulting in a rice with a pink tinge and quicker cooking times. Others leave more of the husk on resulting in a rice with a darker red/brown color and longer cooking times. Follow the instructions on the packet and cook "until done". Cook in water or vegetable stock.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
3cups 5minutes 25+minutes
Servings Prep Time
3cups 5minutes
Cook Time
25+minutes
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Units:
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a moderate heat. Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and garlic. Cover and allow to come to a boil.
  2. Once the stock is boiling, turn down the heat. Cover and allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes. Then test every 5 minutes until the red rice is cooked.What is Red Rice and Why it is a Famous Food of Bhutan www.compassandfork.com

6 Responses

  1. Kelly @ Trial and Eater
    | Reply

    I’ve never made red rice before! Thanks for the info, I’ll have to check it out based on your recommendation.

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Hi Kelly, thanks for your comment. Red rice certainly has some color about it. And more filling than white rice.

  2. Christine
    | Reply

    I know nothing of the food in Bhutan so this is super informative. It sounds delicious and this red rice looks great!

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Yes Bhutan is a great unknown all right. We really enjoyed the red rice and have happily found it at home.

  3. Sasha @ Eat Love Eat
    | Reply

    This rice looks really filling and tasty!

    • Editor
      | Reply

      It’s all of that. Plus, when you want some red in your food, it is a great option. It’s also more nutritious than white or brown rice.

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