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How To Make Bhutan’s Popular Dish Ema Datshi

Can’t think of a dish to cook today? Want to try out for something new and exciting? How about something spicy and cheesy? Presenting to you, the national dish of Bhutan- Ema Datshi- a stew made from chilies and cheese. In the Dzonkha language of Bhutan, ema translates to chilies and datshi translates to cheese.

The love for chilies

Image result for how did chilli come in bhutan

Chilies were originated from distant South America. However, they reached Spain, and the Portuguese traders took it around Asia. Since then, this recipe has been cooked up and has been one of the favorites of the masses. Chilies are also said to be accepted as a gift or as a reward in Bhutan.

Children are fed chilies at a very young age since they help them to increase their tolerance to chilies and also keep the evil spirits away.

Chili crisis

Since chilies are popular in Bhutan, can you imagine a chili crisis?

In 2016, a crisis did arise. Due to less agricultural land in Bhutan, they depend on India for import of chilies. However, due to contamination, the Bhutanese were in a dilemma whether they should consume them or not. Fortunately, they found cleaner ones from Kolkata.

Without any further ado, let’s begin with the recipe!

Prep Time                         Cook Time                        Total Time

5 mins                                  15 mins                              20 mins

Servings: 2


  • 10-15 chili peppers (green chilies, jalapeño, bell peppers), sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter/ oil
  • 1 slice of cheese, grated (cottage cheese or feta cheese. Don’t use stringy cheese like mozzarella)
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper, crushed, to taste
  • 1 cup water (to cook the veggies)Image result for ema datshi ingredients



  1. In a pan and add butter. Add the sliced onion, tomato, and chilies. Give them a quick toss and add water. Season them with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the peppers become tender.
  2. Turn on the flame and let it boil.
  3. Add the cheese and let it melt.
  4. Let it simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Serve it over a bed of red or white rice

NOTE: Variations can be made in this recipe depending on the tolerance of spice level. Potatoes, beans, or mushrooms could be added as a variant in this recipe. For non-vegetarians, beef can also be added.

Hope you enjoy this recipe!


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