Ema Datshi with Bhutanese Red Rice Pilaf
The national dish of Bhutan, this stew of hot peppers and cheese is extremely unique. It is usually made with a type of Bhutanese farmer’s cheese, which can be approximated in the West by using queso fresco or feta cheese.
1/2 lb hot green chili ( jalapeños, serranos, Thai chilis, your choice depending on heat tolerance or use poblanos or Anaheim)
1 medium sweet onion, diced small
3/4 cup water
1/2 lb danish feta cheese
2 teaspoons vegetable oil ( I like olive oil)
2 tomatoes, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1. Remove seeds and ribs from chilis and cut chilis lengthwise into 1/2″ slices.
2. Place chilis and onion in water with vegetable oil. Boil 10 minutes. Add tomato and garlic and simmer for 2 more minutes.
3. Add cheese and simmer on low for 2 more minutes – enough to blend the cheese without completely melting it. Add cilantro and stir.
4. Serve with Bhutanese red rice or brown rice.
Bhutanese Red Rice Pilaf
1 cup Bhutanese red rice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely minced yellow onion or shallot
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (homemade or boxed, not from a bouillon cube), at room temperature or warmed
2 small or 1 large sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the rice with cold water. Drain completely, shaking off any excess water.
In a large (about 3 quart) saucepan or a saute pan with a cover, melt the butter over medium heat until the foam subsides. Add the onion and cook until soft and transparent, 1 to 2 minutes, keeping the heat low so it won’t brown. Add the rice and stir to coat with the melted butter. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, over medium heat. Your goal is to cook the rice for 1 to 2 minutes, not to toast it, but to have the hot butter adhere to the surface of the grains. It’s at this point when the rice begins to sound dry and scratchy as you stir it.
Add the warm stock, thyme sprigs and bay leaf. If you’re using an unsalted stock, add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and gently simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes. It’s done when all the stock is absorbed and the grains of rice are tender but still chewy. If you want the grains to be softer, add 1/3 cup more stock and cook for a few minutes longer. Fluff the rice with a fork and remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.
Original recipes found here: