Food in Ngangla Trong


Ngangla is one of the gewogs in Zhemgang district bordering India. Zhemgang is traditionally divided into three parts as Kheng Rig Namsum -upper, lower and middle regions. Ngangla gewog is located in lower Zhemgang. Ngangla Trong is the main village center with the community temple located on the hill top and the important houses of the three social groups, namely Bjarpa, Lhamanpa and Brela. However, Panbang is the economic center with a small town and important government offices. Ngangla Trong itself is around 20 kms from Panbang town.

Food Culture

People in Ngangla Trong mostly depend on subsistence farming, forest products and animal husbandry for their livelihood. Oranges in most of the villages of Ngangla are the source of cash income.

The diet is by large vegetarian/carbohydrate, dominated by starchy food with low protein intake, as milk, cheese and eggs are not easily available and expensive, and meat is rare. Soya, pulses and dry fish are eaten but not in great quantity. Formerly, maize and millet were the staple foods supplemented by tubers from the forest but now villagers buy Indian rice from Pangbang.

Maize is the main crop for food. The maize is grinded into Kharang for food and also brewed for Bangchang and ara, the local alcohols. Kharang is also mixed with rice to cook for meals. However, because of water scarcity, rice is not cultivated on a massive scale in Ngangla village. Villagers also grow buckwheat (sweet and sour), millet, foxtail millet, finger millet, wheat and vegetables.

Seeds are sown between February and March and are ready for harvest by June and July. Villagers also plant Darun, which is a kind of climber with maize. Shifting cultivation was practiced until a few years back, it entailed burning down the large area of bushes for cultivation. A lay practitionner would make offerings to the deities, spirits and gods to protect their crops from natural disasters and wild animals.

In the olden days, because people mostly depended on maize, they ran out of food stock in the months of January, Feburary and March. Therefore, they knew many wild foods that they would consume. The abundant wild foods that are identified in Ngangla today are, amongst others wild potatoes and yams (Garki, Jugpang, Torma Jug, Bjo, Khawang, , Phatai, Yangkali). Among all of them, Garki is the most popular. It comes in different flavors and is offered as gifts for the village guests too. All these wildly grown items can be boiled and eaten or can be cooked into a good curry with local cheese and dried fish. Khatkala Meto (Adhatoda vasica) is a white flower, which is a little bitter but makes perfectly delicious curry with cheese. People also eat bamboo and banana shoots, ferns, orchids and mushrooms that they harvest from the forest.

Kharang, Cho Chan and Kuley

Traditionally, Kharang and Cho Chan were the main staple in Ngangla when rice was not available. Both Kharang and Cho Chan are made from maize. The maize is ground and categorized into three types: Kapaling (large size) used to prepare bangchang (local beer), kharang (small size) as daily staple sometimes mixed with rice , and flour ( Phe), used to make Cho chan (polenta) and porridge.

Buckwheat is used to prepare Kuley, round pancakes which are also eaten as main meal.

Relishes made of Amaranth, chilli, Perilla frucetescens and garlic as well as of fermented soya.


Phurba Wangchuk, Former Gup, Ngangla.


Choden, K. (2007). Chilli and Cheese. Food and Society in Bhutan, Bangkok: White Lotus.


Sonam Nyenda, Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Royal University of Bhutan, 2019.


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