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Ema Datshi - National Dish of Bhutan

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One of our customers was visiting from his native Bangladesh. We got into a conversation about chilies in Asia, and he introduced us to ema datshi, the national dish of Bhutan. It's a combination of chilies and cheese that is served with almost every meal in Bhutan. Very hot. Very flavorful. A little Internet searching revealed a number of recipes that range from the authentic to a flavorful approximation (via Global Table Adventure).

In Bhutan, the chili of choice is the Sha Ema, practically unknown in the U.S. The chilies are medium hot with heat of a few 10,000s of Scoville Heat Unit. We use comparable heat chili peppers available in the U.S. like, for example, serrano.

P.S. One of our readers suggested a different recipe written by a Bhutanese living in Australia. Describes the farmer's cheese that doesn't melt in water but just softens. All of these recipes suggest a choice of authentic with good flavor versus not-so-authentic, but inspired-by, also with good flavor. So many choices with which to experiment.

P.P.S. We found another recipe that we will be preparing as part of a chili pepper cooking class. This one has tomatoes along with the usual chili peppers, cheese, and onion. The cultural and historical commentary for this recipe is fascinating. Regarding food: "Bhutanese don’t heavily season their food, instead they add chilli peppers to many of their dishes." Here's their recipe for Ema Datshi.

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