Also called Ema Datse, it is the national dish of Bhutan. The soup is ubiquitous and mandatory if you visit Bhutan. The name is simple, "ema" means "chili" and "datshi" means "cheese". There are variations with potatoes, beans, asparagus and mushrooms. The chhurpi cheese comes from yak's milk and is a bit sturdy, pet owners may have seen the hard version as chew sticks for dogs (no joke!). Thus I used Halloumi cheese which can also be used to grill but which I can chew with my human teeth. For the chili I used Pepperoni and Jalapeño, the original used peppers are like Cayenne, Poblano, Ancho, or Anaheim. Instead of plain water I used broth.
The original recipe also is served with red and white rice, since I don't eat carbs in the evening I left them out. But before you start the cooking, just setup the needed amount of rice.
- 250g (9oz) large chillies, halfed
- 200g (7oz) soft cheese
- 1 shallot or a handful of spring onions (scallions)
- ½ cup (125mL) water, or broth
- 4 tbs oil
- Salt to taste
- kitchen knife
- disposable gloves
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Step 1: Preparing the Peppers
The lengthy job first, preparing the peppers. Use disposable gloves if possible. Slice the peppers in half and remove the stem. In Bhutan the peppers are not used as a condiment, but as a vegetable. If you cannot take the heat and pungency, remove the seeds and the placenta, the whitish pith that holds the seeds.
Step 2: Preparing the Cheese
Slice the cheese into 1cm or ½cm pieces and place into a pan.
Step 3: Preparing the Shallot
Dice the shallot and put it also into the pan, not laying on the cheese if possible.
Step 4: Get Started
Now that everything is ready, start heating up the pan. Add 4 tablespoons of oil to sauté the onions until the cheese has formed a smooth sauce with the onions.
Step 5: Add the Peppers
And other vegetables if you want, I sometimes add pureed tomatoes or pointed peppers.
Step 6: Add the Broth (or Water)
I have also found out that beer is a very good complementary for this soup.
Step 7: Boil
For 10-15 minutes cook on low heat that the peppers are still a little crunchy. Serve with the rice. If you happen to be in Bhutan and eat Ema Dathshi then don't forget to say "Zhimbay!", which means "It tastes good". If you can't take the heat then you should remember the phrase "Chhabsa gatey mo?", which means "Where is the bathroom?".
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