A salad from Bhutan

From the wet market

I first ate this salad for breakfast in central Bhutan, where it was served heaped on a huge bowl of fried rice – a fine farmer’s breakfast.

Aum Tashi Wangmo, our host, had pulled the ingredients from her garden shortly after dawn. She chopped and sliced the vegetables, wielding a vast knife and chopping board as she perched awkwardly on a tiny stool in the middle of the kitchen floor. Crumbling a handful of homemade cheese on top, she slid it onto the dining table, where we promptly demolished it, pestering her for the recipe between mouthfuls.

Salad and handTashi Wangmo’s breakfast salad is called Goen Hogay (“cucumber salad”) in Dzongkha. Because Bhutanese farm cheese is a friable feta-like cheese, and because the other major ingredients are cucumber, tomato and onion, the salad bears more than a passing resemblance to a Greek salad. What lifts the Bhutanese version apart from its European…

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