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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) to a chef's interpretation inspired by a trip to Bhutan (via Bon Appetit) to the simple (via Edible Hawaiian).

In Bhutan, the chili of choice is the Sha Ema, practically unknown in the U.S. Seeds are listed as out-of-stock at Reimer Seeds in Saint Leonard, MD. Nobska Farms is in the process of getting a USDA import license to acquire seeds directly from the Ministry of Agriculture in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

The chilies are medium hot with heat of a few 10,000s of Scoville Heat Unit.

We're going to try ema datshi.

Chilies are starting to ripen and will be ready for eating soon!

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.

(credit: Reimer Seeds)

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