Kheni is a beautiful model village in Trashiyangtse. It takes about 20 mins away from the junction in Doksum on the way to Toedtsho gewog. This quaint little cluster village amongst green fields is quite a sight. You’ll love how authentic and classic the style is once you enter the cluster. Personally it really made me feel like I was on the set of a medieval movie.
As you finally arrive at Toedtsho gewog office, you’ll be greeted by a scenic view of beautiful green rice fields. The view also overlooks surrounding an ancient-looking cluster village. This is the village of Kheni. Toedtsho gewog’s Gup tells us that KHENI was once called KHI NYE (Sleeping dog). It was because the shape of the settlement resembled that of a sleeping dog.
A Living Village Museum
After a scenic walk among rice fields crossing small stupas and giggling village children, we enter the cluster village. As we take a tour of the village we notice stone grinders used to ground corn kernels. It isn’t long before we start trying it for ourselves and we soon realize it’s a lot of hard work. “The stronger of the two will hold the lower part of the handle,” says the Gup. Karma, my friend instantly takes that spot. He regrets it immediately as the weight of the stone makes every turn a strenuous one. My shoulders still hurt thinking about it.
Asham Thukpa in Kheni
I had always been told that the further east you travel, the worse the food gets in Bhutan. Tasting Asham Thukpa made me realize how wrong I was about food in the east. The region is so much more than just “Kharang Bokpi“. This is something you have to try while you’re in this part of the country. Asham Thukpa is basically corn porridge but tastes like a delicious chickpea porridge. The beans and potatoes with the fried scallions on top are delicious. I sat near the Gup’s wife in an old shed kitchen as she prepared the dish.
Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a go
1. The hardest part: slow cook the corn for 6 to 8 hours until the kernels turn chewy soft.
2. Add potatoes and beans with datsi cheese, chili and pepper and continue cooking.
3. In a separate pan fry spring onions with garlic and add salt and pepper.
4. Once the corn pot is cooked thoroughly, add the fried scallions on top.
The Reality of Rural Bhutan
Although Kheni is beautiful glimpse of ancient Bhutan, it is also a sad reminder of rural Bhutan’s reality. Kheni today is home to only the elderly and their grandchildren whose parents are mostly working in towns. There’s a huge population of youth leaving their villages to find work in the city or abroad. If you wish to visit this model village, contact the Dzongkhag administration office for details.
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