Wednesday, April 30, 2014

BHUTANESE CUISINE - SUJA

Today I am going to write an article on Bhutanese famous tea - suja. People call this tea, butter tea which is not wrong but if you break the word suja it means su=churn and ja=tea. In the olden days Bhutanese used to be a large joint and extended family and suja was made using huge pot and almost 0.5 meter tall churner called the “Ja-su” . The churning was basically to melt the butter and thoroughly mix the butter in the tea. But these days u hardly see the churner anymore, most people use blenders even in the villages since these days there are only few members in the family.
Anyways, in this article I will help you make suja and it is actually quite simple. Plus I will also teach you a cheater’s way of making a suja. First we will go with the original suja. You will need tea leaves and it’s not the one we use to make milk tea…it is a little different and I am not sure if it is available everywhere. There are two types of tea leaves, one is processed and we get it for sale in the market and the other one is plain tea leaves (and I am really sorry because I don’t know the name of the tree). You can either use the processed tea leaves alone or mix the two. These tea leaves are really strong and give you a really bitter taste. But let me not freak you out now and go step wise.
Boil it, strain it and dilute it
(L)Processed & (R) Plain Tea leaves and soda 
I am using  unsalted butter
  1.   Take a small pot and boil the tea leaves (I am not sure of the ratio but this is basically to get the juice of the leaves so use your guess and boil it) with a pinch of soda.
   2.      Simmer the heat and let the tea boil, try to get as much taste and color from the leaves.
    3.      Strain the juice into another container and add hot water to dilute the juice you extracted (I would say the diluted color should be almost like a diluted raspberry juice ^_^).
  4.      Add butter and salt to your liking and a tea spoon of milk powder (to balance the color of the tea) the blend it until the tea is a little foamy
  5.      Suja is ready to be served.
Final look of "ready to drink" suja 
Krematop powder
Now this next technique is to make suja the cheater’s way… (lol) and I have no idea who thought of it, I saw my mother make it and she drinks it this way because she is not allowed too much butter and in this technique you can do away with the butter. But you will need “Krematop” it is a non-dairy creamer, this is actually used to make coffee. I have only used krematop but using this logic, I am sure any non-dairy creamer will do the trick. Anyways to go on with the steps:
Repeat step 1 till 3 from the previous method and add the non-dairy creamer and salt to the tea to your liking…believe it or not it gives the same taste and looks. Only few people notice the difference. Krematop has this buttery taste to it so it substitutes butter really well. The justice is done and it is like no compromise is made…in fact this easy suja is taken by most people who loves suja but can’t take butter for health reasons. It is like a rescue suja for them…haha
Anyways I hope you guys will be able to make suja easily hence forth…enjoy the tasty suja dear readers ^_^

Thursday, April 17, 2014

BHUTAN'S NATIONAL DRESS

Dear all, today I am going to do an article which I should have covered way before. But I kinda felt like it was way too basic for me to touch. But someone asked me to cover it and I realized for someone who has very little idea about Bhutan…this is kinda interesting topic. So this article is especially for the   non-Bhutanese readers. I hope you will find this article interesting because it is about my national dress-Gho (for male) and Kira (for female)
My niece and nephew's school concert



I will start off with Gho first. Many foreigners call it the “skirt” and it’s not wrong, it kinda looks like a skirt, only that it’s worn by men in Bhutan and not by women. Both Gho n Kira are stitched…the materials are either hand-woven or from a ready-made cloth piece. 

           I am also going to cover on “how to wear a gho?” From the above pictures you can’t quite see but let me tell you, gho is something like a super-oversized overcoat. It can completely wrap you almost twice. I have uploaded some pictures so you can see how to wear a gho. And the model here is my 12 years old nephew getting ready for his school. Since he is a little young, I help him wear the gho.
And before I start off with how to wear a gho, I will tell you that it’s not only a gho that’s required. You require a gho, a tego (inner most wear or else gong and lagay is the other option) and a kayra (hand-woven belt). I just realized that describing in words how to wear gho and kira is going to be difficult so I will do pictorial description and a little explaining if required. If you don’t get it, you can always leave a comment and I will try to explain it better.
1.      Wear your gho like you would wear your over coat.
2.      Put the right-hand side of the gho inside the left hand side of the gho (right in the mid) and hold it from outside with your left hand.
3.      Now with your right hand, hold the left hand side of the gho, and lift both the sides like a belt-less skirt.
4.      Slowly lift both the hands such that the edge of the gho in on your knees
5.      Take both sides of the gho to your behind and adjust the gho to have a clean look
6.      Using kayra tighten your waist
7.      Make final adjustments which includes making your gong and lagay (lagay is only one neat fold) as show in the last two pictures, the collar is called the gong and the fold on the wrist is called as lagay
This is how your gho should look at the end.
ps: the last picture is not of his school unifrom, he was getting late so he had to rush to school...lol, so I am using some of his other pictures wearing gho.

And to go on with how to wear a kira, first of all you need: wonju (inner most wear), kira, tego (outer most wear and it’s not the same as gho’s tego, but looks similar) and finally kayra. Kira is basically a large sheet of cloth and like gho, kira is also available in both hand-woven or ready-made materials. In case of kira…there is full-kira and half-kira. People hardly wear full kira these days, most people wear half kira. 
Me and my bestie during our convocation
In this picture, if you look closely, my bestie (in the pink) is wearing a half-kira and I (in the green) am wearing a full kira. My kira is till my chest where as my friend's is till waist.
And I dont think it's important for me to cover on how to wear a full-kira because all the Bhutanese know how to wear it and Non-Bhutanese find half-kira more comfortable and easy to wear.
Besides, these days you get easy to wear half-kiras, all you have to do is place some hooks in the right place and it's done, as easy as said 






And now the following pictures will show you how to wear a half-kira. 



The white one is wonju and as you can see, kiras are really long, must me more than two meters, not really sure though, because we usually buy arleady-stitched kiras ^_^
1.      Wrap yourself with the kira and place the left hand side of the edge on your waist.
2.      Continue wrapping yourself such that the other end of the kira is on your right side of the waist.
3.      Now make a nice fold in the front and that fold should meet the side of the kira on the right side of your waist
4.      Holding these two sides together, tighten your waist using Kayra. Usually half-kira will have long extra strand of cloth, that’s used instead of Kayra/belt, but I prefer using Kayra so that’s why in the picture you see me using Kayra.
Final look
5.      And finally you wear your tego and make a nice wonju gong (the collar) and wrist fold (we don’t say lagay here, lagay is only for males it’s called wonju lakha)
Taken after National Day celebration 

And finally the shawl look alike that Bhutanese men wear is called Kabney. Different color of the kabeny signifies different post in the kingdom for male. And the link here will best explain it  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabney
Likewise women wear Rachu…it looks like a bigger version of Kayra…women wear it on their left shoulder leaving the fringes on the front. The color code for the Rachu for the different post of females in the kingdom is similar to that of male, except for the saffron color. Saffron is only for the King and the chief abbot of the country. And for the commoner, the color of Rachu is not white but colorful prints…mostly red with flower prints but these days you get to see varieties of patterns in different colors.

My aunt, adopted brother and mum
 This picture in the right was taken when we were in Punakha Dzong for an offering. My aunt and mum being a commoner are wearing ordinary rachu. But you will notice that my brother is not wearing a gho or kabney, that because he is a Buddhist monk and they have their own attire. A robe and kabney. I dont know much about their attire so cant really write on it. But we call it "Sangay gi Namza" meaning Buddha's attire. 

Anyways I really hope you guys enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it for you guys (not to forget the photo session I had with my nephew) :)