10 May 2024 By May Ng

Discover more than 400 mushroom varieties in Bhutan

Experience guided mushroom foraging expeditions or mushroom festivals this summer in the Kingdom

Bhutan’s unique environmental conditions and rich biodiversity make it a prime habitat for a diverse array of mushroom species, including over 400 that are categorized as edible, medicinal, or inedible. Notably, the Tricholoma Matsutake, locally known as Sangay Shamu, is one of Bhutan’s most sought-after mushrooms, with a harvest season from July to September. In addition to the Matsutake, other popular varieties such as chanterelles, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms thrive in the region. The country also values the Cordyceps Sinensis for its esteemed medicinal properties.

Visitors have the option to find Matsutake, oyster and shitake mushrooms in markets or along roadsides, or they can join popular Matsutake festivals, such as the one in Genekha held from 15th to 16th August annually. Genekha is accessible via a 45-minute drive from Thimphu. Alternatively, Ura, Bumthang (around an 8-hour drive from Thimphu) also hosts a mushroom festival from 23rd to the 24th of August annually. These festivals feature a range of experiences and activities, including mushroom foraging, sampling delicious mushroom dishes, cultural performances by locals, and opportunities for visitors to partake in local sports.

Visitors can learn more about Bhutanese mushrooms during a guided mushroom trip. Guests can book mushroom foraging or exploring tours with Bhutanese guides and tour operators. The experience offers a delightful insight into the culinary heritage of the Bhutanese. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn the basics about mushrooms and find out which ones are edible and which ones are not. Guests can also experience a one-on-one cooking class with freshly harvested mushrooms.

Mushrooms are also an integral part of Bhutanese cuisine. It plays a vital role in Bhutanese cuisine, adding texture and flavor to the traditional dishes. Guests have the opportunity to taste dishes crafted from mushrooms, with a notable dish being the Shamu Datshi, a stew is made with mushrooms, vegetables and cheese. Guests can enjoy the dishes produced with these unique mushrooms during the mushroom festivals where locals use mushrooms to prepare a variety of delicacies or they can enjoy it in some of Bhutan’s hotels and restaurants.