The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hi from Bhutan, in the Himalayas

markinbhutan's picture
markinbhutan

Hi from Bhutan, in the Himalayas

Hi to you all, or Kuzu Zangpo La (that is about the limit of my Dzongkha),
I am writing from Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. When I searched for Bhutan on this site I found one reference. The noted blogger Shiao-Ping has been here too, and enjoyed the buckwheat pancakes. These are my mother-in-law's favourites. My wife is Bhutanese, and I teach at a local private school. Oh, I am from New Zealand.

There are a few bakeries in the city, and some make reasonable bread. However, the most common bread is white, sliced and sweet. So, I started baking my own. The family usually ignores my cooking as I don't use enough chillis for them. They call all dishes "curry". I guess they might call my bread a curry as well. The pizzas I make are usually wolfed down, as long as I don't put too many olives on top.

A couple of years ago, I even managed to get a sour dough yeast going. But when I made a visit home to NZ, I dried it off and put it in the freezer. It is still there.

This site is one that I have visited just about every day for the last few years. It is an amazing community. Now, having joined up at last, I shall call myself a "Freshloafer".

You may like to check out my personal Blog, the latest couple of posts have been about bread. But please know that I know even less about blogging than I do about baking bread. And the bread knowledge is still at a beginner level. There are a few shots of my bread on the site.

Here it is...
http://eyeamempty.blogspot.com/

Oh, the flour on my face in the picture was deliberate.

Thanks,
Mark

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I was wondering if the white coloration on your face was due to frostbite!  Glad to hear it's just flour.


Welcome to The Fresh Loaf, Mark.  Keep us posted on your baking exploits, whether or not the family likes them.


Paul

markinbhutan's picture
markinbhutan

Thanks Paul


There is not much choice as far as flour goes. The most commonly used stuff is the chickpea (garbanzo) flour, called Atta. Whole wheat flour, rye flour and bread flour cost more and are harder to find. I have just started using the rye flour and that works well.


Ha, the family know not to touch my bread. Angay (granny lives with us) is older, so she will be allowed to taste some. ;)


 


Mark

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Welcome, Mark  :-)

markinbhutan's picture
markinbhutan

Thanks Debra


Actually, it is not so cold. The first snowfall for the winter was on 31st December and only hung around for a day. Otherwise, the winter days are glorious. Deep blue skies and intense sun. At night, it is a different story.

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

I figure it was not fun if I'm not wearing it.  Welcome, Mark.  You reinforce my love for the international flavor and freedom of this site.  And stay warm so the frost does not bite!


OldWoodenSpoon

markinbhutan's picture
markinbhutan

How did you come up with that name, Spoon? I see you like travel. Where was the best bread? 


You should have seen the mess I got into trying to take photos of the kneading. Well, not me, but the camera. I think it still goes. Next time I will have to rig up some self-timer system. Or get a helper.


Cheers,


Mark

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

but the best beer was in Switzerland!  Should have gotten off the train in Germany and tried the beer and the rye breads, but didn't.  My loss.  Most of our travelling is domestic, though, and I have a list of bakeries and small restaurants for towns and areas left to visit.


I use the "helper" method when it comes to pictures.  I'm fortunate in that my wife is a real pro.  She takes all the "bread and butter" shots around here!


As far as the name goes, it was/is my first tool of choice when baking, and mine is well seasoned (kind of a "seasoned citizen" like me).  The rest was just a bit of late-night inspiration I think, the night I signed up for TFL.


Happy Baking


OldWoodenSpoon

markinbhutan's picture
markinbhutan

There is some beer here called Red Panda. It is a natural brew, but the quality varies. It is made in Bumthang by a Swiss man. There is even a rating of it here: http://www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/Beer/Beer-Ratings.asp?BeerID=29125


The Swiss Bakery in Thimphu was also set up by a Swiss man. It is still being run by the same family. I have a feeling it was one of the first bakeries here. They make a reasonable loaf of bread. Not quite up to the French baguettes.


I have tried baguettes, but my product has not lived up to expectations. This site has lots of advice, so I should continue the journey. My equipment is very basic. Then again, the baguette recipe is a simple one. There are times when I dream of getting a decent oven (can I build a wood fired one?), baking stones (I have eyed the slates on the traditional roof here), digital scales, bread pans (looks like i could improvise with a sheet of corrugated roofing iron), the list goes on. I find an online store, fill the shopping basket, then find that


1) Bhutan is not on the list of countries they sen to.


2) Bhutan is there, but the cost is three years salary.


3) And the cost of the goods is ten years salary.


However, I do have a wooden spoon, and I shall think of you when I use it.


Cheers,


Mark 

hutchndi's picture
hutchndi

love the in-bread comic......

markinbhutan's picture
markinbhutan

Glad you liked it. The software that I am trialling does it all pretty simply. Think I can do a lot more with it though. 


Is that snow on the top of your bread?


Cheers,


Mark

hutchndi's picture
hutchndi

Kind of hard to see in the little picture. But that is a dancing flute playing man. Also known as Kokopelli, you can google it.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Kokopelli's lived in my garden for about 15 years.  Covered with snow right now, but he dances and plays on.

markinbhutan's picture
markinbhutan

If I squint, I can make out the flute playing man. Next time I will try to get a flour version on my face. How did you get your Kokopelli on the bread, hutchndi?

hutchndi's picture
hutchndi

stencil and flour just before baking. so you don't have to squint....


markinbhutan's picture
markinbhutan

If I borrowed your stencil, i could probably do a flour Kokopelli on my face!

hutchndi's picture
hutchndi

sorry, it broke and I need to make another one. maybe a craft store?

Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

The article was interesting but I didn't see mention of the National Federation of Fish Friers, which was established in 1913 and is in Leeds - only about a mile from where I live.


I can't remember the last time I ate f&c because I buy some things from a fish friers' supplier and am dismayed at some of the additives used. :-( 

markinbhutan's picture
markinbhutan

Interesting Mary. The origins of foods always lead (Leed!) to disputes. Being a Kiwi, I know about the Pavlova debate with our Australian friends. I will update by blog though. Thanks.

We may get into trouble for going off the topic. However, we could argue that we are linking fish to bread with the Biblical account of Jesus feeding the masses with 5 loaves and 2 fish.

Does anyone know what kind of bread they would have been baking there and then. And how about a recipe for a loaf that will fee 1000, if my maths is correct?

Right, I must go and feed 5 with a packet of macaroni, milk, cheese and the remains of my loaf of bread.

Cheers,
Mark (http://eyeamempty.blogspot.com/)

Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

Sorry if anyone was irritated by this. I intended adding that as a child one of my favourite meals was a chip sandwich. A fried fish sandwich was even better but cost twice as much - 2d rather than 1d.


this was just after the war, Potters bakery was next door to the fish and chip shop and opposite the swimming baths, it was a real treat to have good chips between good bread!


Probably still would be but I'm trying to lose weight for a Special Occasion.

markinbhutan's picture
markinbhutan

Ah, the famous "chip butty". That was not something I had heard of until early adulthood.


Is Potters bakery still there? What kind of bread did you get there? My bread-memories are of returning from the local dairy with one of those loaves with two pieces joined together. Getting on of the two pieces (or both if you timed it well) to toast with butter and honey was a luxury. I think the two pieces often "fell apart" as I carried the loaf home, and I then had to pick at the fluffy pieces of bread that were exposed.


Later, that kind of loaf disappeared, replaced by the sliced loaf.

Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

Still there? I don't know, I haven't been down there for, ooh, it could easily be the best part of some time. It's only about a mile away but since the polythene bag company moved across the city from the road between the baths and my school (both demolished a long time ago) there's been no reason to go. 


If I remember I'll go and report. It's a fallacy that the memory gets worse as you age, the memory is perfect. The retrieval system however ...


The bread I remember most from Potters were teacakes. The plain ones were soft and had a coating of some powdery cream coloured substance I've never been able to reproduce.


I must have been about five years old when I was sent to Potters for some currant teacakes and I picked off the currants on the outside. This was wartime and we had very little sweet stuff. Then my little fingers delved for those currants just below the surface. Then the ones a bit deeper ... we lived just round the corner and across the road but by the time I'd dawdled home the tea cakes were like a rabbit warren. How did I think I could get away with it???

markinbhutan's picture
markinbhutan

Fascinating hearing your memories, Mary. 


Do you make teacakes yourself now? They must have looked like Swiss cheese when you finally got them home. All the bread, and big holes where the currants used to be. Yes, a rabbit warren. I look forward to hearing of Potters Bakery.


Another memory I have of bread, is of my grandpa. He had a funny way of buttering the bread first, then cutting the slice off. Well, it was funny to me at the time. 


Then there was one of my friends. You remembered chip butties, well this guy made sugar sandwiches. White sugar. Not the best diet for a growing lad. Toast was what I liked. Every day, on returning home from school, I would make some. And if we had meat for dinner I always had to leave space for a meat sandwich. Dessert.


 

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Welcome Mark! Love your floured mug!


Betty

markinbhutan's picture
markinbhutan

What a good name you have.


Glad you liked my floured mug, but I think I better tidy myself help for the next photo. You should see what the kitchen looks like after I have been there. I sure am glad that our kids are well trained.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

When I first saw your photo and location, I thought you had just made a snow angel - face down. ;-)


Welcome to TFL.


Will flour protect against frostbite?

markinbhutan's picture
markinbhutan

Thanks Lindy. I had to look up what a snow angel was. We have only had one snowfall this winter, and there was just snow on the ground for the morning. Being the first snowfall of the year, there was a holiday declared for the workers. Neat!


It is just cold at night here. My bread still manages to rise during the day. There is a nice sunny spot in the bedroom where I let it rest. Wonderful blue skies.