We learned how to make some authentic Bhutanese cuisine, including this multi-use fiery hot chilli condiment, ezay, in the rustic and well-equipped home of our guide’s brother. Unlike Singapore’s sambal chilli and Spain’s salsa that are served with specific dishes, the ezay is a condiment that comes with almost everything. The Bhutanese eat it with vegetables, poultry, fried noodles, and even on top of ema datshi. Chilli with chilli – the Bhutanese truly like things spicy! Ezay is traditionally made with thingey, a locally-grown peppercorn known to the rest of the world as Szechuan peppercorn. The backing heat of the peppercorn and the red chillies makes this condiment a perfect one to have in winter, but also possibly a shock to palettes that aren’t used to the level of spice the Bhutanese love. The beauty of ezay is that it heightens the clean flavours of Bhutanese cuisines, despite the sharpness of the spices. Chilli-lovers, have a go at this recipe!
100g chopped tomatoes, seeds removed
50g chopped red onions
50g dried red chillies*, fried in oil, drained well on kitchen towels, chopped finely (substitute with fresh green chillies or fresh red chillies or a combination)
50g chopped coriander
50g feta cheese or cottage cheese crumbed finely
15g extra virgin olive oil or any vegetable oil
1g or a sprinkling of Sichuan peppercorns ground or ground black pepper
Mix everything in a bowl. Use a food processor for a finer blend. Enjoy it with salads, soups or with plain rice!