If you compare the rest of chilies in Bhutan with the URKA Bangala, this one is a very different-looking chili. “Neither too hot nor too bland, the chilies resemble capsicum in appearance and it is an important source of livelihood for the people of Yangtse,” says an accompanying district officer.
Homestay in Boomdeling
We are in Ngalimang, under Boomdeling gewog at 64 year old Ap Thukten’s traditional homestay. Where we feast on a unique traditional meal. Ap Thukten’s homestay isn’t just a short drive away from Trashiyangtse town. After driving for almost 2 hours, we find ourselves walking down a muddy path in the village of Ngalimang towards his homestay. But after the ordeal in the dark, the inviting warm kitchen lifts everyone’s mood.
What was even better was Ap Thukten’s warm hospitality and his silly sense of humor. Near the mud stove with the open fire, his wife brings out a bowl full of the local chilies. “This isn’t just any other kind of ema datsi” we’re promised.
The Horse Bag Chilies
Here’s an interesting story: Urka Bangla chilli was named after the shape of a horse tsamkhu (bag). These Chilli’s are huge, don’t pack as much heat and are delicious! .Aum Yeshi prepares the chilli’s with local cheese and butter on the traditional thap (stove) and also prepares dengo (flour dough) – the perfect companion for the bangala datsi. What is a dengo? It is a traditional millet dough that is eaten with the chilli cheese dish, sort of like bread.
Ap Thukten tells us many stories and entertains his guests as the ema datsi is finally served. You know how much Bhutanese love our chili and cheese dishes but this is something that can be palatable to foreign visitors. It’s not hot and doesn’t make you sick. Some chillies give you stomach issues especially if you’re not used to them. As we devoured our meal, I couldn’t help but look around at everyone having a good time eating together near the fire. This is what a Yangtse homestay meal looks like. The dough drenched with fresh melting butter dipped in the deliciously cheesy bangla datsi, is a meal that can make any eastern Bhutanese proud.
Chhangkoey with Onions
Ap Thukten and Ap Yeshi surprised us with something else. Ap Yeshi brought out a pot filled with hot dark liquid and started pouring it in small cups. This is a changkey (a porridge-like alcohol cooked with millet, yeast and sugar) from Trashiyangtse. In the east, people call it Nakpa. I’ve had this before but what surprised me this time was the spring onions sprinkled on top. “It makes the nakpa interesting,” says Ap Thukten and he was right. The addition gave the drink a zesty and spicy aftertaste.
Tarshiyangtse’s Urka Bangla is one of the most unique species of chillies in Bhutan. Farmers from other parts of Bhutan have taken the seeds and tried growing them in their regions. But most believe that the chillies grown away from yangtse region do not have the same flavour. This is why Urka Bangla, holds such a special place in the region of Trashiyangste.
Read more blogs about Trashiyangtse on yeegetaway.com