Bhutanese Dish: Ema Datshi

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As much as a picture transports you back to a destination, we feel, so does the distinct taste of a dish. Recipes from our travels have been our way of collecting travel memorabilia. We love learning a local recipe on our travels and making our own take on it.

Experimenting with flavours in the kitchen is something we enjoy and we do that by bringing back with us wherever possible, an indigenous ingredient or recipe.

This is one such dish which transports us right back to Bhutan! We have tried to create an authentic Ema Datshi recipe by drawing from our palette. Hope you try it and like it 🙂

Ema Datshi (Chilli & Cheese) may as well be called the official National Dish of Bhutan. Variations include Kewa (Potato) Datshi, Shamu (Mushroom) Datshi, Shakam (Beef) Datshi, Semchu (Green Flat Beans) Datshi and many more.

Datshi is actually Yak’s Cheese. Since we don’t get that in mainland India easily, I have substituted it for Feta and Cheddar cheese. The rest of the ingredients are your everyday staples and pair amazingly well with either Red Rice (how the Bhutanese eat it) or like I made, a herbed Couscous.

My dish has a mix of green flat beans and red chillies. You can substitute flat beans for any of the other traditional ingredients mentioned before or go traditional and make it as Chilli & Cheese.


Serves: 2


Green/Red Chillies: 100 gms (you can change the quantity based on how spicy you want the dish to be)
Green Flat Beans: 100 gms
Onion: 1 Medium sized (White onions are preferable as they are less pungent)
Tomato: 2 Medium sized
Garlic: 3-4 pods
Feta Cheese: 50 gms
Mild Cheddar Cheese: 200 gms
Butter: 1 tbsp
Salt to taste


Slice the onion and tomatoes in long pieces and chop garlic pods.

Add butter to a wok and toss in the vegetables. Fry them for about 2 minutes till the raw smell of onions is gone.

Add 2 cups of water, cover and cook the vegetables for 2 more minutes.

Now crumble and add feta cheese and continue to cover and cook for a minute. The cheese should start to dissolve in the hot water.

Crumble and add mild cheddar cheese. Keep the heat on low and stir continuously so that the cheese doesn’t split.

Once melted, add salt to taste.

Once off heat, it will thicken. This can be served with fried or plain red rice for a traditional meal or cooked couscous which goes just as well.

If you try out this recipe, please write to us in the comments or share your pictures with us!

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Bhutan’s National Dish: Ema Datshi

Read or stories from a Thousand Kilometre Journey Across Bhutan

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