Recipe: Bhutanese Ema Datshi

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A Market in Bhutan
A Market in Bhutan (Photo: Lisa Napoli) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Bhutanese cuisine is some of the spiciest in the world – chiles are considered vegetables and they appear in basically every dish.  This week on Good Food, Lisa Napoli (formerly of Marketplace) shares her stories of traveling and eating in the Kingdom of Bhutan.  Lisa’s new book is called Radio Shangri-La.  The dish locals eat daily is Ema Datshi, which translates to cheese and chiles (recipe below).

Ema Datshi

Big hot chilli peppers, fresh or dry (quantities depend on the number of people eating and the courage for chilli)
Philadelphia processed cheese, Kraft cheddar cheese, cream cheese or other shredded cheddar cheese.
3 Tablespoons butter
Salt to taste, salt also helps the heat (Bhutanese are high on salt, the taste just does not come through if too little is added)

1. Wash and split chilli lengthwise into 2 or 4 depending on size
2. Add the butter, salt, water to cover half the ingredients only, and cook for a few mintutes and bring to boil till chilli is tender
3. Add the cheese (more cheese here to make a thick gooey sauce) and let it melt
4. Mix the chilli and cheese well so that the chilli and the cheese are stuck well in a thick cheese sauce.
5. Take off heat and serve.

You can modify this recipe by adding onions and tomatoes to reduce the heat.