Ema Daji Recipe | Vegetarian Food from Bhutan

Ema Daji

Ema Daji Recipe | Vegetarian Food from Bhutan
Region / culture: Bhutan | Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 4 | Vegetarian diet


Ema Daji
Ema Daji

Ema Daji is a traditional Bhutanese dish that features chiles and cheese as the main ingredients. This spicy and savory dish is a popular comfort food in Bhutan and is often enjoyed with rice or as a side dish.


Ema Daji has been a staple in Bhutanese cuisine for centuries. The dish is believed to have originated in the eastern region of Bhutan and has since spread throughout the country. It is a simple yet flavorful dish that showcases the bold flavors of chiles and cheese.


How to prepare

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the chiles, onion, and oil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to a strong simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and bring the mixture back to a boil. Reduce the heat again and simmer for an additional 5–10 minutes, until the garlic and chiles become soft.
  3. Stir in the cheese and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, give it a stir, then cover and set it aside for 10 minutes.
  4. Taste the mixture and add salt if needed. Serve the dish sprinkled with a few bits of coriander leaf.


  • Add diced tomatoes or bell peppers for extra flavor and texture.
  • Use different types of cheese, such as cheddar or mozzarella, for a unique twist.
  • Add cooked chicken or tofu for a protein boost.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

Be sure to adjust the amount of chiles based on your spice preference. You can deseed the chiles for a milder flavor or leave them in for a spicier kick.

- Use a good quality cheese that melts well for the best results.

- Stir the mixture frequently to prevent the cheese from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Serving Suggestions

Ema Daji is traditionally served with rice, but it can also be enjoyed with naan or roti. It pairs well with a side of yogurt or a fresh salad.

Cooking Techniques

The key to making Ema Daji is to simmer the chiles and onions until they are soft and fragrant. Be sure to stir the mixture frequently to prevent burning.

Ingredient Substitutions

If you can't find Bhutanese chiles, you can use any spicy pepper, such as jalapenos or serranos. You can also substitute the cheese with paneer or tofu for a vegetarian version.

Make Ahead Tips

Ema Daji can be made ahead of time and reheated before serving. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Ema Daji in a colorful bowl garnished with fresh coriander leaves for a vibrant presentation. You can also sprinkle some red chili flakes on top for an extra pop of color.

Pairing Recommendations

Ema Daji pairs well with a light and refreshing beverage, such as a mint lassi or a cold beer. It also goes well with a side of pickles or chutney.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store any leftovers of Ema Daji in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

Each serving of Ema Daji contains approximately 250 calories.


Ema Daji is a low-carb dish, with most of the carbohydrates coming from the chiles and onions. Each serving contains approximately 10 grams of carbohydrates.


The main source of fat in Ema Daji comes from the cheese and vegetable oil. Each serving contains approximately 15 grams of fat.


Cheese is the primary source of protein in Ema Daji. Each serving contains approximately 10 grams of protein.

Vitamins and minerals

Chiles are rich in vitamins A and C, while onions provide a good source of vitamin B6 and potassium. Cheese also contains calcium and vitamin D.


Ema Daji contains dairy from the cheese, so it is not suitable for those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies.


Ema Daji is a flavorful dish that is relatively low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fats. It is a good source of vitamins and minerals, but may not be suitable for those with dairy allergies.


Ema Daji is a delicious and spicy Bhutanese dish that is perfect for spice lovers. With its simple ingredients and bold flavors, it is sure to become a favorite in your household. Enjoy this dish with rice or as a side dish for a flavorful and satisfying meal.

How did I get this recipe?

I recall the feeling of curiosity that overcame me when I found this recipe for Ema Daji. It was tucked away in an old cookbook that belonged to my great-grandmother, passed down through the generations. The name alone intrigued me, and I knew I had to uncover the secrets behind this mysterious dish.

Growing up, I was always fascinated by the art of cooking. My mother and grandmother were both excellent cooks, and I spent countless hours by their side, watching and learning as they prepared delicious meals for our family. I absorbed their knowledge like a sponge, eager to try my hand at creating my own culinary masterpieces.

When I stumbled upon the recipe for Ema Daji, I knew it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The ingredients were simple yet exotic, a unique blend of flavors that promised to tantalize the taste buds. I set out on a mission to learn everything I could about this intriguing dish, determined to master it and add it to my repertoire of recipes.

I turned to my grandmother, a wise and experienced cook who had a vast collection of recipes from around the world. She had a knack for uncovering hidden gems and turning them into delectable dishes, and I knew she would be the perfect person to help me crack the code of Ema Daji.

I sat down with my grandmother in her cozy kitchen, the scent of spices and herbs filling the air as she began to recount the story behind the recipe. She told me that Ema Daji was a traditional dish from the far-off lands of India, a spicy and flavorful curry made with eggplant and potatoes. She had learned the recipe from a dear friend who had traveled to India and brought back a treasure trove of culinary delights.

As my grandmother shared her knowledge and expertise with me, I listened intently, taking notes and asking questions along the way. She showed me how to select the freshest ingredients, how to sauté the spices to release their full flavor, and how to cook the eggplant and potatoes until they were tender and succulent.

Together, we spent hours in the kitchen, chopping, stirring, and tasting our way to perfection. My grandmother guided me every step of the way, offering words of encouragement and wisdom as I navigated the complexities of the recipe. And finally, after much trial and error, we created a dish that was worthy of the name Ema Daji.

The first bite was a revelation, a burst of flavors that danced on my tongue and warmed my soul. The combination of spices, herbs, and vegetables was nothing short of divine, a harmonious symphony of taste and texture that left me craving more. I knew in that moment that I had discovered a true culinary gem, a recipe that would become a beloved favorite in my family for generations to come.

As I savored the last bite of Ema Daji, I felt a deep sense of gratitude for my grandmother and all that she had taught me. Her passion for cooking had ignited a spark within me, inspiring me to explore new flavors and techniques, and to never stop seeking out new culinary adventures.

And so, the story of Ema Daji became a cherished chapter in the book of my culinary journey, a testament to the power of curiosity and the joy of discovery. I will always be grateful for the lessons I learned and the memories I created in the kitchen with my grandmother, and I will continue to honor her legacy by sharing the magic of Ema Daji with those I hold dear.


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