This traditional Bhutanese dish is a favourite at Calcutta’s famous restaurant The Blue Poppy.

[In this series, we tip our hats to some of our favourite dishes available in the restaurants, cafés, and cabins of Calcutta. Our purpose in doing so is to document their existence, and give people a way to recreate them if they happen to live away from the city. Make these at home, or hunt them down from the source—irrespective of how you get your hands on these items, we hope you enjoy them.]

Ema datshi is the national dish of Bhutan, and rightly so. All across the country, residents and travellers alike can be seen eating this hearty concoction of cheese and chillies. Apart from Bhutan, this preparation is also consumed in several parts of Northeast India and Nepal. ‘Ema’ and ‘datshi’ literally stand for ‘chillies’ and ‘cheese’, and as such can be made using one or more varieties of either ingredient. ‘Datshi’ is also used to refer to any cheese-based soup (the version with potatoes, for example, is called ‘kewa datshi’ where ‘kewa’ means potatoes).

This dish can be prepared using an assortment of chilli peppers for flavour. We’ve used jalapeños, but look for slightly large chillies such as those commonly used for achar or pickles. We’ve combined them with green chillies, which provide the heat. As for cheese, any good, locally available melting cheese (such as that commonly found in New Market in Calcutta) will do. In a pinch, you can also use processed cheese. Avoid using a stringy cheese like mozzarella for this soup.


COOKING TIME 25 minutes
YIELDS 2 servings


Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
220 g Jalapeños (quartered)
6 g Green chillies (slit)
70 g Onions (sliced)
15 g Garlic (roughly chopped)
50 g Tomatoes (diced)
75 g Cheese (grated)
15 g Butter
7 g Vegetable oil
5 g Salt
250 g Water

Equipment

  • Saucepan | kadai with lid
  • Cheese grater

Appliances

  • Stove

Method

  1. Remove the stalks off the chilli peppers and cut them in quarters lengthwise. Also slit the green chillies, slice the onions, roughly chop the garlic, and dice the tomatoes.
  2. Add all these ingredients to the pan along with the salt, oil, and 250 g water.
  3. Turn on the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Allow everything to boil on medium heat for 15 minutes until the peppers have softened.
  4. Turn off the heat and add the butter and grated cheese. Killing the heat before adding cheese will prevent it from curdling. Stir these in until the cheese has melted.
  5. Check for salt, which will vary depending on how salty your cheese is. Serve hot.

Served with