Bhutanese cuisine employs a lot of red rice (like brown rice in texture, but with a nutty taste, the only variety of rice that grows at high altitude), buckwheat, and increasingly maize.
The diet in the hills also includes chicken, yak meat, dried beef, pork, pork fat and mutton. Soups and stews of meat, rice, ferns, lentils, and dried vegetables spiced with chili peppers and cheese are a favorite meal during the cold seasons.
Zow shungo is a rice dish mixed with leftover vegetables. Ema datshi, made very spicy with cheese and chili peppers (akin to chili con queso), might be called the national dish for its ubiquity and the pride that Bhutanese have for it. Other foods include jasha maru, a chicken dish; phaksha paa, thukpa, bathup and fried rice.
Popular snacks include momo(dumplings), shakam eezay and liver. Dairy foods, particularly butter and cheese from yak and cow, are also popular, and indeed almost all milk is turned to butter and cheese. Popular beverages include butter tea, tea, locally brewed ara (rice wine) and beer.
Spices include cardamom, ginger, chili peppers, thingay (Sichuan pepper), garlic, turmeric and caraway.