Ema datshi

Chilli ’n’ cheese

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Lands of the Curry Leaf

Lands of the Curry Leaf

By Peter Kuruvita

Published 2018

  • About

Translating as ‘chilli’ and ‘cheese’, this intensely hot and spicy soup hails from Bhutan, where it is considered the national dish. It is also adored by Tibetans, who call it churu, or ‘rotten cheese’ soup.

The cheese that is actually used in this soup cannot be found outside Bhutan. It is a strongly flavoured local farmer’s cheese, with a unique texture that doesn’t dissolve in boiling water. Using feta as a substitute calms the flavours down a little — but remember, this dish is very fiery, so it’s best served with a generous portion of red rice or polished white rice.

Preparation 15 minutes
Cooking 20 minutes


  • 250 g (9 oz) green chillies, of medium hotness
  • 1 onion, cut into long strips
  • 2 teaspoons rice bran oil
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely crushed
  • 250 g (9 oz) Danish feta, crumbled
  • a handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves


Cut each chilli lengthways, into quarters. Place in a saucepan with the onion and about 400 ml (14 fl oz) water. Stir in the rice bran oil and bring to the boil, then boil over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and garlic and allow to boil for another 2 minutes.

Add the cheese and cook for a further 2–3 minutes.

Finally, stir in the coriander and turn off the heat.

Cover and stand for 2 minutes, then serve.