The Druk Girl: A Culinary Celebrity

The Druk Girl: A Culinary Celebrity

What beds are for clinophiles, cooking is for Ugyen Choki who vlogs on preparing different recipes. Her love for cooking has risen to the heights where she has garnered tens of thousands of followers on various social media platforms where she handles under the alias ‘The Druk Girl’.

This culinary enthusiast from Bhutan is currently working and residing in India and had passion for cooking since childhood.  What, how, when and why, Ugyen takes our readers on a stroll in an emailed conversation with Business Bhutan reporter Nidup Lhamo.

BB: What inspired you to start a vlog on making Bhutanese-style curry?

Druk Girl: My inspiration is none other than my mom, a creative maestro in the kitchen and the source of most of The Druk Girl’s culinary skills.

My friend initially started my food channel. We were roommates and both loved cooking. We always dreamed of sharing Bhutan’s culinary gems with the world but life had other plans for her, so I took over. Recognizing a huge gap in Bhutanese food representation online, I stepped in to carry the torch. Back then, finding Bhutanese recipes on YouTube was like stumbling upon buried treasure! I knew we had a unique culinary story to tell, and so the journey began. Now, it’s enriching to see a thriving community of talented Bhutanese food vloggers. It’s an honor to have played a part in this beautiful journey.

BB: What type of Bhutanese-style curries do you feature on your vlog?

Druk Girl: I love every style of curry. I am not very choosy when it comes to food. But my followers do tell me what truly sets my recipes apart is their accessibility-simple ingredients. I believe delicious food doesn’t have to be complicated. Most of my recipes rely on pantry staples and fresh, local ingredients, making them accessible to everyone.

The other reason is my quick and easy methods. Weeknight dinners deserve stress-free cooking. My recipes prioritize efficient techniques and minimal prep time, ensuring you can whip up a flavorful Bhutanese curry without spending hours in the kitchen.

BB: Can you describe the unique characteristics of Bhutanese curry compared to curries from other regions?

Druk Girl: Since I am currently living in India, I can compare Bhutanese curry to the curry here. Indian food might differ from region to region, but one thing remains common, their spices and herbs. Indian curry is a veritable symphony of spices like garam masala, turmeric, and chilies, creating complex flavor profiles that vary by region, while Bhutanese curry is often simpler, relying on earthy flavors from chilies, ginger, and garlic. But the star ingredient is undoubtedly Datsi, adding a unique tangy richness. Ultimately, both cuisines are vibrant tapestries of flavor, celebrating fresh ingredients and cultural heritage.

BB: How do you research and develop your curry recipes?

Druk Girl: Cooking is like an open book for me – I observe, absorb, and adapt. Witnessing someone cook, something unique sparks my curiosity, and I dive in to try it myself. But I’m not afraid to improvise, adding a touch of my own to suit my palate. Experimentation is my playground – discovering new recipes and mashing two together to see what emerges. Simplicity reigns supreme in my kitchen.

BB: Are there any unique ingredients that readers should be aware of?

Druk Girl: While there may not be one magical ingredient, there’s a certain rhythm I always follow for maximum flavor. It starts with the aromatic trio of onion, garlic, and ginger, building a base that spices like chilies and coriander can dance on. Tomatoes sometimes join the party, adding a touch of sweetness and acidity. But honestly, the real star is garlic – it elevates any dish, so it’s a permanent resident in my kitchen!

BB; Can you share any specific tips or tricks to achieve an authentic taste?

Druk Girl: Freshness matters. Use fresh, seasonal vegetables and herbs whenever possible for the best flavor and aroma. Butter (Cow and Yak) plays a crucial role in Bhutanese cuisine, adding richness and depth of flavor. Use them in moderation depending on the dish. Embrace slow cooking. Simmer stews and curries for longer periods to allow the flavors to meld and deepen. Grind your own spices if possible, just before using them for maximum flavor.

BB: Can you explain the significance of any particular cooking method?

Druk Girl: Deep frying at a moderate/low temperature ensures both a crispy exterior and a fully cooked interior. High heat can lead to a misleading crunch with an undercooked center.

Steaming- Skip the oil and drizzle on the flavor! Steaming preserves the natural sweetness and nutrients of your veggies, leaving you with light, healthy dishes that still satisfy.

BBWhat spices and herbs are commonly used in Bhutanese curry, and how do they contribute to the flavor?

Druk Girl: Unlike other parts of the world curries with complex spice blends, Bhutanese curries often rely on fewer yet carefully chosen ingredients, allowing the natural flavors to shine.

Chili Peppers, the undisputed king of Bhutanese cuisine comes in various forms, from fresh green to fiery red and even smoked varieties. They provide a vibrant heat that can be adjusted to individual preferences, warming the body and tantalizing the taste buds.

Sichuan peppercorns contribute a unique tingling sensation to the palate. This numbing effect adds another layer of complexity and excitement to the flavor profile.

Dried meat and vegetables play an important part, especially during winter when the lands lie barren.

BB: Can you recommend any spice blends or combinations for beginners?

Druk Girl: Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many spices at once. Focus on a few basic blends and combinations before exploring more complex flavors. A blend of dried chilies, ginger, garlic, and Sichuan peppercorns adds a complex heat and numbing sensation to dishes.

Add a warm and savory touch to dishes like Shamu Datsi (mushroom curry) with a blend of turmeric, ginger, garlic, and black pepper. Cooking should be enjoyable. Experiment with different combinations and discover your favorites.

BB: Do you have any exciting plans or upcoming content related to Bhutanese cuisine on your vlog?

Druk Girl: I do want to explore different region’s cuisine. Bhutan itself has a lot of cuisines depending upon the region. Each region boasts its own flavor symphony and I’m a passionate explorer determined to learn their melodies. For example, I want to learn to make authentic Bhutanese noodles. I also would like to collaborate with other Bhutanese food vloggers, or any vloggers and grow my audience. I hope to take food vlogging as my full-time job. Getting paid for what you love doing, would be amazing.

BB: How can readers stay updated with your vlog and culinary adventures?

Druk Girl: Don’t miss a sizzling moment! Hit that follow button on The Druk Girl’s social media to stay updated on my vlog, and new videos (every week, hopefully), and maybe even score some secret recipe tips.

BB: Any other comments?

Druk Girl: Huge thanks to BB for making this happen! I’m feeling incredibly humbled and grateful for this opportunity. And speaking of gratitude, a massive shoutout to all my amazing viewers! Your support and love fuel my passion every day. Even my viewers in Australia are tuning in, which blows my mind. Thank you, thank you, thank you! As for the occasional negative comments, let’s just say I’m sending good vibes their way too. We all need a little positivity, right?