Olympic Food Challenge no. 5 Bhutan- Ema Datshi

Where is Bhutan

Bhutan is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by India and to the north by China.

Five facts about Bhutan

  • One of 43 landlocked countries in the world, Bhutan is about half the size of the state of Indiana.
  • The word “Bhutan” translates to “Land of the Thunder Dragon.” It earned the nickname because of the fierce storms that often roll in from the Himalayas.
  • Bhutan is the first country in the world with specific constitutional obligations on its people to protect the environment. Among its requirements: At least 60 percent of the nation must remain under forest cover at all times.
  • Bhutan is the only nation in the world where the sale of tobacco is banned.
  • Bhutan is one of the last countries in the world to introduce television to its people. The government lifted a ban on TV – and on the Internet – only 11 years ago.


My other half doesn’t like it when we have non meat meals for dinner on account of the fact that he always thinks that we will be hungry afterwards. I have learnt to sweeten the deal now with the promise of desert.

Ema Datshi is the national dish of Bhutan, this cheese stew is traditionally made with Bhutanese yak cheese. Seeing this is not readily available feta cheese can be used as a substitute.

As I cut up the 1/2 pound of chillies that this recipe calls for I had to admit I was fearing that this meal would be just inedible.

Added to the fact that that every time I came into the kitchen I was coughing uncontrollably from the fumes of the chili and onion concoction, I was not filled with much confidence.

Anyway it turns out that it did not taste too bad at all. I was thinking that the stew would be more like a fondue but as the cheese is added right at the end it keeps its shape and adds a solid consistency to the meal.

We served this with normal brown rice although traditionally this is served with red rice (again something that I could not find). Think this would make for a good vegetarian meal and will be something we will do again.


Recipe below:

Ema Datshi


• 225g jalapeno chilies, sliced into 4 slices each

• 1 medium yellow onion, chopped into large chunks

• 500ml water

• 2 tbsp vegetable oil

• 1/2 tin tomatoes

• 5 cloves garlic, chopped

• 225g Danish feta cheese, cubed

• 3 leaves coriander


Combine chilies, onion and water in pot and add the oil. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 10

minutes. Add the tomatoes and garlic and simmer for 3 more minutes. Add the cheese, mix and simmer

for 3 more minutes. Turn off the heat, add the coriander , cover and let stand for a few more minutes before serving.


Credits to: Thinley Namgyel’s a Window to Bhutan

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