Ema Datsi & More Images From Bhutan

Ema Datsi and chillies at a market near Paro

My first trip to Bhutan was nearly fifteen years ago to the border town of Samdrup Jongkhar. I remember having Chinese food and it didn’t occur to me to try out something local then. But this time was different. I had heard about Ema Datsi and that was the first local dish I tried as soon as we landed there. It was in a wayside restaurant in Paro where we had a good time chatting with the friendly owner. Ema means chilli, and Datsi is the word for cheese. It’s a simple dish with several chillis cooked in a cheese sauce. It’s hot! Although we are used to chillis, we are certainly not used to this! I had more of the cheese and left most of the chillis. But the taste is good and I’ll soon be making my version with a great reduction in the chilli count!

For those of us in the north-eastern part of India, going to Bhutan does not feel like crossing an international border. If you leave aside the Buddhist traditions, many of us look the same and there’s a sense of affinity with them.

Pork with beans served at the same restaurant
A shop in Paro
A little girl in Paro
A market on the way to Thimphu
Takin, the national animal photographed at the Thimphu zoo

In Bhutan, the takin are found in bamboo forests at altitudes of 1000 to 4,500 metres where they eat grass, buds, and leaves. Takin are diurnal animals sometimes resting in the heat on particularly sunny days. They gather in small herds in winter and herds of up to a hundred individuals in summer. In winter they move to lower elevations and split into smaller herds. Source.

Wildflowers at Dochula Pass
Punakha Dzong on the bank of the Mo Chhu river
The central tower of the Punakha dzong

Considered to be the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan, it was built in the 1600s. Punakha Dzong was the administrative centre and the seat of the government of Bhutan until 1955 when the capital was shifted to Thimphu.

Cottage type cheese (left), unsalted butter and yak cheese (right)

The most common cheese used in Bhutan is seen on the left. These are some of the dairy produce I brought back with me. A little more of Bhutan will be featured in my next post as well.
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