For years I’ve seen stacks of Meakhu being sold along the Thimphu and Wangdue highway but never particularly enjoyed them. “It’s a bit too tough,” I told aum Pema honestly. “That’s because you haven’t tried the authentic maekhu that actually originates from Nobgang. You’ll love this one,” she assured me. 

A basket full of crispy Luma Maekhu in Nobgang

Did you know that there are two types of Maekhu? The round puffed one is called Boku Maekhu and is made from pure Tan Tshering and Ngabja rice grown in Punakha. The flat one (that resembles the Indian papad) is known as the Luma (wind) maekhu, describing how a slight gust of wind can blow it away.

Aum Pema sits me down to observe how the Luma Maekhu is made. After soaking the rice, the puffed rice is pounded into a clear white powder. Even the process of pounding the rice into thin fine powder is quite a sight as two people take turns hitting the base of a wooden motor with huge long wooden pestles. It looks like quite the strenuous job.  

Pounding rice into thin powder in Nobgang
Rollling rice dough into a thin translucent film before frying maekhu
Aum Pema effortlessly swirls a rolled rice flour film before it’s fried

The powder is mixed with water and then kneaded into a dough with a little salt. As she spreads a small piece of dough into a small flat circle, it changes into a delicate translucent film. I ended up accidentally tearing the flat pieces in an attempt to assist aum Pema to spread them on the bamboo mat. “It’s not easy handling these,” she tells me as she swiftly throws one and lands them in perfect order realizing I was taking too long. 

Boku Maekhu is puffed up unlike the luma maekhu

The thin film of rolled flat round pieces are dried in the hot sun and then deep fried. They turn into beautiful delicate crispy rice snacks which are best with suja and ezey. I realized why I didn’t like Maekhu, it’s because I never tried the authentic ones. It is yummy “. Luma Maekhu should be only made with Ngabja rice. You probably ate the ones made lazily with mixed rice that you find along the highway,” she said. 

The Nobgang community restaurant offers live demonstrations of how these rice snacks are made. I definitely recommend watching these masters at work and eating fresh Maekhu directly from the source.

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