🇧🇹 Bhutan | Jaju

Recipe: Jaju from The Druk Girl

I was not feeling great today and didn’t have much interest in cooking at all. Additionally, an attempt at a different recipe was thwarted by my own failure to buy the correct ingredient, so I wasn’t less than my normally positive self towards cooking and trying something new.

While I was on the couch doing some lazy research to see what recipes I’d make next week to catch up after this week’s deficit, when I decided to learn more about Bhutan. It’s a small (under 800K population), landlocked nation between China and India with a 1000% more awesome local name which translates to ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’.

Most sites I read emphasized how important cheese is to the Bhutanese – mostly from yaks or cows. Meat is also center stage of most meals, meaning that I was not feeling all that optimistic about finding something appropriate to veganise.

Enter Jaju – which basically means ‘vegetable’ in Dzongkha, and is a catch all for a kind of vegetable and milk soup in Bhutan. There are varying accounts of what this would have originally been made from including dried turnip leaves, local spinach, or seaweed. The ingredients (which I have written out below because they aren’t easy to grab from the video I linked to above) are really simple and while I did expect it would taste fine, I didn’t expect how phenomenal it would end up being. It was light but had a depth of flavour I wasn’t expecting – I think the milk brings out elements of the tomato and garlic in a way I’m not used to. I had to stop myself from eating the entire pot, and after my partner tried it he requested it to be added to our normal food rotation immediately.

I highly recommend you make this – especially if you’re feeling a bit blurgh. It took 15 minutes from start to finish and the only change I’d make is doubling the quantities so you have leftovers (or seconds and thirds).


  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 white onion – diced
  • 4 cloves garlic – crushed or finely chopped
  • 1/2 tomato – diced
  • Green chilies to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups water/stock
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used oat milk)
  • 150g spinach, cut into bite sized pieces (I used baby spinach)


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan or wok. When hot add onion and fry for 2 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and chilies and fry for an additional minute.
  3. Add tomato and fry while stirring occasionally for 3 minutes.
  4. Add water/stock and bring to boil. Replace lid and let simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and add milk and bring back up to the boil. Replace lid and let simmer for 2 minutes.
  6. Remove lid and add spinach and replace lid for a minute. Remove lid and stir wilted spinach into the liquid, then replace and let simmer for 3 minutes.
  7. Serve.

Note: I did not have any chilies in the house so I added sriracha at the end. Chili crisp was good on it too.

🇰🇮 Kiribati | Sweet potato and coconut soup

Recipe: Kiribati Pumpkin Coconut Soup

Have you heard of the Republic of Kiribati? Do you know how to pronounce Kiribati? Had I not met a really interesting couple a number of years back who had spent some time living in there, I wouldn’t have known that this country existed. One of them was teaching at the local university and they told stories about Kiribati culture and sadly how our refusal to deal with climate change will ultimately lead to Kiribati being reclaimed by the oceans as they rise.

On that positive note, it’s pronounce ki-ree-bas, and it’s an island nation comprised of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, with a population of roughly 120,000 people. It only has 818 square kms landmass making it the 24th smallest country in the world, but is spread across 3.5 million square kms of ocean which straddle the equator.

Finding a vegan recipe for Kiribati was a bit of a struggle. It doesn’t have much arable land so there isn’t a lot of local agriculture, and given its proximity to the ocean, seafood makes up a lot of the diet. However, sweet potatoes and pumpkins are known to grow on some of the northern islands and a pumpkin or sweet potato and coconut soup is one of their traditional dishes.

I will admit I wasn’t that excited about this recipe. I make soup all the time, and I make pumpkin or sweet potato soup regularly enough that I didn’t expect this to really stand out. However this recipe used a lot more coconut milk than I normally would, and a lot, lot more ginger. It was visually beautiful pastel tangerine, and the flavour was creamy with a bit of a kick – and tasted even better the following day. The recipe was straight forward, which goes to show you don’t always need complicated for delicious. I’ll definitely make this again!

Roasted, Marinated Cauliflower Soup and Awesome Customer Service

Soundtrack: ‘Trip’ Jhene Aiko

I don’t want to read your rambling, I just want the recipe: Roasted Marinated Cauliflower Soup

Star Rating: Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

There’s a food place on the lobby level of my work building called SÜP. I’ve long assumed that the umlaut meant the U had a long sound and it was pronounced ‘soup’, while others argued for the far cooler pronunciation ‘s’up’. Considering they sell soup, I naturally assumed I was right, but it’s been a point of curiosity for our team for a while now.

UPDATE: Bon Appetit have been commenting on my Instagram post and it turns out the Ü was meant to simply look like a smile 🙂


SÜP also makes the most incredible roasted cauliflower soup, which is somehow vegan, dairy-, gluten-, and nut-free. There are a few of us who have this soup for lunch numerous times per week, and there was almost a mutiny the one day they ran out. I’ve made a lot of cauliflower soup in my time, but nothing has ever tasted and rich and creamy as this one so I decided to see if I could track down the recipe.

Conveniently, the company, Bon Appétit, which runs many of the on-campus cafes has a handy feedback form. This is what I sent to them.

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A few days passed and I’d actually forgotten that I’d sent the feedback at all. That made it a pleasant surprise when this landed in my inbox (on Valentine’s Day!)

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So mystery kinda solved on the name, maybe?

More importantly, I wasn’t entirely sure we would get the recipe given how chefs can be notoriously protective of their secrets. Massive shout out to Sean for being a great dude!

Here’s the recipe:

Roasted, Marinated Cauliflower Soup
2 heads cauliflower cut into florets
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
4 cloves garlic minced
3 tablespoons oil

¼ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt


  1. Pre-heat oven to 425F.
  2. Mix marinade ingredients and pour over cauliflower florets. Mix well and let sit for 20min.
  3. Roast marinated cauliflower at 425 for about 8min or until tender.
  4. Add oil to heavy bottomed pot. Stir in onion, celery, garlic. Cook until vegetables are translucent.
  5. Add cauliflower and water to ½ inch below cauliflower. Let simmer for about 45min.
  6. Blend and season with salt and pepper.

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Can we just stop to look at how beautiful this marinade drenched cauliflower looks? While I roast veggies a couple of times a week, I’ve never thought about marinating them, so this part of the recipe alone was a revelation! It’s also nice to use a marinade that doesn’t rely on oil.

I did tweak the recipe a little. I didn’t add as much salt to the marinade as recommended because I’m not a huge salt fan. I needed to roast the cauliflower much longer until it was tender – my oven definitely can’t hold its own against commercial ones. And finally, I didn’t use as much oil as suggested for sautéing the other vegetables. Half that amount worked fine.

What was the verdict of the homemade version? Probably due to the above changes it wasn’t quite as good as the one made at SÜP. It wasn’t as creamy which would be due to a combination of adding less fat and my stick blender being less powerful than an actual blender. However, it was still delicious and the best cauliflower soup I’ve ever made. I’m seeing how well it freezes, as back-up soup is handy to have to hand. Overall my version of this recipe gets four stars – but the original one from SÜP gets a hands-down five, which is why I will continue to buy it for lunch a couple of times each week.