Ema Datshi, The National Dish Of Bhutan: What It Is, Why Is It So Loved & How To Make?

In Bhutan, every dish has chilli in it, including Ema Datshi, which is the national dish of the country. Here is the recipe!

by Shreya Rathod
Ema Datshi, The National Dish Of Bhutan: What It Is, Why Is It So Loved & How To Make?

Bhutan, the home of the Thunder Dragon, astounds visitors with both its extraordinarily beautiful and tranquil landscapes and its distinctively spicy food. In Bhutan, individuals are introduced to chillies at a young age and have a strong understanding of them. Every dish in Bhutan has chilli in it, including the national dish, Ema Datshi—and here’s the recipe for it!

Ema Datshi, The National Dish Of Bhutan

Ema Datshi bhutan dish
Credits: Canva

The majority of people use chilli as a spice to give their food a kick. But in Bhutan, chillies are valued as a genuine prized vegetable rather than merely a flavour. Every dish has to have it; in Bhutanese culture, a meal is not considered complete without chilli pepper. One of the most popular meals in Bhutan is Ema Datshi, which is a result of this unending love for chillies. It is without a doubt a national dish of Bhutan.

The words “Ema” and “Datshi” stand for “cheese” and “chilli,” respectively. Ema Datshi is a simple dish made with fresh yak or cow cheese and a variety of chillies, such as green, dry white, and sun-dried red chillies. It is served over red rice, another traditional dish in Bhutan, and is made with incredibly hot chillies.

There are many different varieties of Ema Datshi, and each person has different preferences. While some like it soupier, others prefer it cheesy and without soup. Some enjoy it basic and uncomplicated, with only garlic, chilli and cheese, while others add items like tomatoes, garlic, onion and stalk of leeks. A milder variation of the meal called Kewa Datshi or Shamu Datshi can be made by combining Ema Datsi with other vegetables like potatoes or mushrooms.

Also Read: Deepika Padukone Loves This Bhutanese Dish, Can You Guess What It Is From Description?

Bhutanese people eat ema datshi with anything, but frequently with bread, roti, puri, fried rice, and even drinks as snacks. You may find Ema Datshi everywhere in Bhutan, from cafes to residences and everything in between.

Recipe For This Bhutanese Dish

Ema Datshi
Credits: Canva


  • 1 & 1/2 Tomato Sliced Lengthwise
  • 1 Onion Sliced Lengthwise
  • 1/2 Green Capsicum Sliced Lengthwise
  • 3-4 Red Chilli Peppers Sliced Lengthwise
  • 4-5 Green Chilli Slit
  • 4-5 Garlic Cloves Sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Teaspoon Oil
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 3 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 Cup Cheese Grated


1. Add the chopped tomato, onion, and green capsicum to a pan along with the red chilli peppers (or more to taste), sliced cloves of garlic, sliced green chilli, salt and black peppercorns (optional). Pour in 1 cup of water and 1 tsp of oil.

2. Set the pan’s heat to high. Boil, covered, for ten minutes. Take off the cover and give it a stir.

3. Next, stir in 1 cup shredded cheese and 3 tablespoons butter. Once the cheese has melted and the gravy has thickened, thoroughly mix all the ingredients.

Your dish is ready!

Chilli Cultivation In The Country

The kingdom of Bhutan skips chemical fertilisers in an effort to become the first nation in history to grow all of its food organically. In order to develop the chillies, the farmers use agricultural resources including cow dung, chicken manure, and other farm wastes. They also receive their seeds from certified organic farms or organically grown farmer’s fields. The inability of chiles to grow a place in Bhutan makes it challenging to produce chilli peppers there.

Also Read: Amidst Bhutan’s Black Mountains Lies Phobjikha Valley, A Bowl-Shaped Hidden Gem

As tropical and subtropical plants, chillies need a combination of warm, humid, and dry weather in order to flourish.

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva

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