Ema Datshi - Gastro Obscura

Prepared Foods

Ema Datshi

Chilies and cheese combine in Bhutan's incredibly spicy specialty.

Ema datshi is embedded with an explosion of spice. This Bhutanese favorite is made from local chili peppers and a light helping of soft, neutral cheese. Chefs also play around with a bit of onion, tomato, or other spices.

As you drive through Bhutan, you’ll see ema datshi’s two main ingredients nearly every place you go—chili peppers are laid out to dry on roofs, and strings of dried cheese dangle from roadside stands and around town. Suffice it to say, there is no escaping ema datshi.

For your average consumer of spice, you’d be lucky to make it through one full mouthful of this celebrated stew. A mere nibble of one corner of a slice of cheese-soaked chili pepper may be all you can achieve, and even then, you may be drying a few tears. However, no need to get down on yourself about it—Bhutanese children are slowly but surely trained to handle otherwise astronomical amounts of spice.

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