Bhutan National Dish: Ema Datshi

Welcome to the world of Bhutanese cuisine, where flavors, traditions, and cultural heritage blend harmoniously. In this article, we will explore the Bhutan National Dish, known as Ema Datshi. Get ready to tantalize your taste buds as we dive into the spicy and cheesy delight that defines Bhutanese gastronomy.

Ema Datshi: The Pride of Bhutan

Ingredients and Preparation

Ema Datshi is a traditional Bhutanese dish that showcases the country’s love for chilies and cheese. The key ingredients are green chili peppers and yak cheese, which blend together to create a unique and fiery taste. Other ingredients such as onions, garlic, and tomatoes enhance the flavors, making Ema Datshi a true gastronomic delight.

The Art of Preparing Ema Datshi

Preparing Ema Datshi requires skill and precision. The chilies are typically slit lengthwise, allowing their seeds to infuse the dish with heat. The chilies are then sautéed with onions, garlic, and tomatoes until they reach the perfect balance of tenderness and spiciness. Finally, the yak cheese is added, creating a creamy and tangy texture that complements the heat of the chilies.

The Spicy and Cheesy Flavors

The combination of fiery chilies and rich cheese creates a flavor explosion that is both intense and addictive. The spiciness of the chilies is balanced by the creaminess of the cheese, resulting in a harmonious blend of flavors. Each bite of Ema Datshi is a rollercoaster ride for your taste buds, leaving you craving for more.

Ema Datshi Variations

While the traditional Ema Datshi recipe remains the most popular, there are variations that cater to different tastes and preferences. Some variations include adding mushrooms, potatoes, or other vegetables to the dish. These additions bring new dimensions to the flavor profile of Ema Datshi, making it a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in various forms.

Cultural and Social Importance of Bhutan National Dish

Ema Datshi holds a special place in Bhutanese culture and society. It is not only a culinary delight but also a symbol of hospitality and togetherness. In Bhutanese homes, Ema Datshi is often served to guests as a gesture of warm welcome and friendship. It is a dish that brings people together, fostering a sense of community and shared experience.

Health Benefits of Ema Datshi

Beyond its delectable taste, Ema Datshi offers several health benefits. Chilies, the star ingredient of the dish, contain capsaicin, a compound known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Capsaicin may boost metabolism, aid digestion, and provide pain relief. The yak cheese used in Ema Datshi is a good source of protein, calcium, and probiotics, contributing to overall well-being.

How to Enjoy Bhutan National Dish

To fully savor the flavors of Ema Datshi, it is best enjoyed with Bhutanese red rice, a staple in the country. The nutty and slightly sticky texture of red rice complements the spiciness and creaminess of Ema Datshi, creating a perfect harmony of tastes. Additionally, Bhutanese people often enjoy Ema Datshi with traditional side dishes like dried beef, pickles, or ferns, enhancing the overall dining experience.

Traditional Bhutanese Dining Etiquette

In Bhutan, dining etiquette is an integral part of the cultural experience. When enjoying Ema Datshi or any Bhutanese meal, it is customary to eat with your hands, using your right hand to take food from the communal dishes. The meal is often shared with family and friends, fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie. Taking small portions and tasting each dish is a sign of respect and appreciation for the food and the host.

Bhutan National Dish and Tourism

Bhutan’s unique cuisine, including Ema Datshi, plays a significant role in attracting tourists from around the world. Visitors to Bhutan are eager to explore the local flavors and experience the authenticity of Bhutanese cuisine. Ema Datshi has become an iconic dish that represents Bhutan’s culinary heritage, enticing travelers to immerse themselves in the country’s vibrant food culture.

Popular Eateries in Bhutan

When in Bhutan, experiencing Ema Datshi in local eateries is a must. From cozy family-run restaurants to bustling street stalls, Bhutan offers a range of dining options. Some popular establishments renowned for their Ema Datshi include “Spice Kingdom,” “Chili & Cheese Delight,” and “Himalayan Flavors.” These eateries provide an opportunity to indulge in authentic Bhutanese flavors and enjoy the warm hospitality of the locals.

Recipe: Ema Datshi

Now, let’s explore a simple recipe to prepare Ema Datshi in the comfort of your own kitchen. This recipe will serve four people:


  • 10 green chili peppers
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 200 grams of yak cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste


  • Slit the green chili peppers lengthwise, removing the seeds if desired.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat.
  • Add the sliced onions and minced garlic to the pan, sautéing until golden brown.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and chili peppers to the pan, stirring well.
  • Cook the mixture for about 5 minutes until the chilies are tender.
  • Reduce the heat and gradually add the grated yak cheese, stirring continuously until it melts and forms a creamy consistency.
  • Season with salt to taste, keeping in mind that the cheese may already be salty.
  • Remove the pan from heat and let it sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  • Serve the Ema Datshi hot with Bhutanese red rice or your preferred choice of grain.


Ema Datshi stands as the beloved national dish of Bhutan, representing the country’s rich culinary heritage and the warmth of its people. With its spicy and cheesy flavors, Ema Datshi tantalizes taste buds and leaves a lasting impression on those who have the pleasure of experiencing it. This iconic dish brings communities together, showcases Bhutan’s cultural identity, and invites visitors to embark on a gastronomic journey like no other.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1: Is Ema Datshi extremely spicy?

A1: Ema Datshi is known for its spiciness, but the heat level can be adjusted based on personal preference. You can control the spiciness by removing the chili seeds or reducing the number of chilies used.

Q2: Can I substitute the yak cheese in Ema Datshi?

A2: While yak cheese is traditionally used in Ema Datshi, you can try substituting it with other types of cheese, such as cheddar or gouda. However, keep in mind that the unique flavors of yak cheese contribute to the authentic taste of the dish.

Q3: Are there vegetarian versions of Ema Datshi?

A3: Yes, vegetarian versions of Ema Datshi are common in Bhutan. You can omit the meat-based ingredients and focus on the chilies and cheese for a delightful vegetarian experience.

Q4: Is Ema Datshi suitable for those with lactose intolerance?

A4: Ema Datshi may not be suitable for individuals with lactose intolerance, as it contains cheese. However, you can explore lactose-free or vegan cheese alternatives to accommodate dietary restrictions.

Q5: Where can I find Bhutanese red rice outside of Bhutan?

A5: Bhutanese red rice can sometimes be found in specialty grocery stores or online marketplaces that offer international ingredients. Alternatively, you can substitute it with other whole grain options like brown rice or quinoa.


  • Wangchuk, K., Choden, T., & Dorji, K. (2018). Bhutanese Cuisine: The Culinary Heritage of the Kingdom of Bhutan. Journal of Ethnic Foods, 5(1), 1-7.
  • World Travel Guide. (n.d.). Bhutan Food and Drink. Retrieved from
  • Wangdi, C. (2017). Food and Rituals in Bhutan. Journal of Ethnic Foods, 4(1), 3-7.

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