Ema datsi is the foundation of Bhutanese cuisine. The Himalayan country’s beloved national dish is a thick stew of spicy chilis and fresh cheese curd—a sweat-inducing comfort food if there ever was one.

Lhamo, a mother of three from Thimphu, is widely admired for her ema datsi (she goes only by her first name). She recently shared her recipe with writer Gopilal Acharya.


(Servings: 1)

3-5 pieces of Bhutanese green chili, cut horizontally
3 cloves of garlic, preferably chopped
1 onion, sliced (use spring onions if you’re cooking with dried red chili)
2 tablespoons oil or butter
1 2-ounce ball homemade cottage cheese (cheese with light mold gives better flavor)
Salt to taste


Wash the chili pieces and cut them into smaller horizontal pieces.

Set a pan on the stove and fill it with ½ cup of water. Now throw chili, chopped garlic, sliced onion, salt, and butter in the pan. Sprinkle a ball of cottage cheese on top.

Cover the pot and boil it on low flame for about 10 minutes. Stir and serve with red rice.