Tibetans are famously non-vegetarian, but there are times when many Tibetans refrain from eating meat, such as during the holy month of Saka Dawa, commemorating Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, teaching and death day. During this time, bhatsa marku becomes especially popular. This dish, sort of like a sweet, extremely rich macaroni and cheese, can be too buttery for Western palates, though our recipe testers have really enjoyed the mix of sweet with the cheese. You might experiment with less butter, though Tibetans themselves really love the heavy butteriness. Cooks in Central Tibet would traditionally use dried cheese from the female yak (dri), which does not melt down and get stringy when it is hot as much as Romano or Parmesan do. We have not been able to replicate the way that dri cheese coats the bhatsa without melting down a bit, but the good news is that it still tastes great when the cheese melts :-) This seems to be one of those cultural comfort foods — when bhatsa marku is mentioned, Tibetans tend to get happy.
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