The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
5 Countries with the Most Similar Food to Bhutan
Nestled in the heart of the Himalayas, Bhutan’s cuisine is a tapestry of unique flavors that reflect its cultural diversity and geographical influences. Therefore, it has one of the most unique cuisines in the world. Surprisingly, Bhutan shares intriguing culinary commonalities with nations across the globe.
- Nepal and Bhutan are both landlocked countries that are located between China and India. In addition, the Himalayas run through these nations. Ema datshi, a popular Bhutanese dish made from cheese and chilies, finds its parallel in Nepal’s love for chilies and dairy-based dishes. Some variations of Aloo Tama include cheese and chili peppers as well.
- Ecuador is in South America, but the typical ingredients in the country’s diet are somewhat similar. Rice is the most commonly eaten staple in these nations. While Bhutan is known for its fiery national dish, Ema Datshi, Ecuador shares a love for bold and spicy flavors. Ecuadorian cuisine frequently features aji peppers, adding a kick to various dishes.
- Venezuela is another South American country on this list. Corn and rice play a significant role in both cuisines. In Venezuela, it is transformed into arepas, cachapas, and hallacas, while in Bhutan, it is used as a flour to make various dishes. In Bhutan, Phaksha Paa, a spicy pork stew, is similar to Venezuela’s Sancocho, a robust soup with various meats and vegetables.
- Cape Verde, an island nation off the coast of West Africa, and Bhutan may seem worlds apart, yet they share a reliance on indigenous greens. Bhutan’s Gundruk, a fermented leafy green, finds resonance in Cape Verde’s use of locally grown moringa and collard greens. Both nations tend to eat a lot of rice and corn, although Cape Verde eats more fish from the ocean, since it is not landlocked.
- Malaysia and Bhutan differ greatly in geography, but both countries have a mix of South Asian and East Asian influences. Noodles are a popular component in both Malaysian and Bhutanese cuisines. Malaysian dishes like Char Kway Teow and Hokkien Mee feature noodles, while in Bhutan, dishes like Thukpa incorporate noodles. Furthermore, rice is the most commonly eaten ingredient in their cuisines.
5 Countries with the Least Similar Food to Bhutan
The five countries with the least similar food to Bhutan are primarily in two different locations: Africa and the South Pacific. The agriculture in these countries is significantly different, as staple ingredients like rice, corn, and wheat are more commonly consumed in Bhutan than these areas.
- Solomon Islands is a Melanesian archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean. Most of its people live near the coast, so seafood is common in the country’s cuisine. Sweet potatoes, yams, and coconuts are all popular ingredients in the food there.
- Micronesia is a group of small islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It relies heavily on seafood, tropical fruits, and root crops as a result. The country’s relative isolation has limited its exposure to foreign influences. Micronesian cuisine tends to focus more on the natural flavors of ingredients, with an emphasis on freshness and simplicity
- South Sudan is a landlocked country in Africa. Cassava and sorghum are the staple foods in South Sudan. South Sudanese cuisine tends to be more rustic and hearty, while Bhutanese cuisine is known for its delicate use of fresh herbs, spices, and vegetables.
- Papua New Guinea is another Melanesian country on this list. Bhutan’s proximity to the Himalayas impacts its cuisine. Dishes from the mountainous regions often include ingredients like beef, buckwheat, and corn, unlike in Papua New Guinea.
- Chad‘s climate is hot and arid. It is a sparsely populated, landlocked country in Africa. Chad’s cuisine is far different from Bhutan’s, since it heavily relies on starches like millet and sorghum.
Bhutan’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Rice, Corn
Fruit: Orange, Banana
Vegetable: Areca Nut, Carrot
Starch: Rice, Wheat
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.