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Erma Da Tse

This is a favorite Bhutanese condiment that can be made as spicy as you like and a favorite with the Himalayan people who have had any experience with Bhutanese food. Emma Dha Tse — cheesy chilly dish prepared by the Bhutanese could probably be voted as the national dish of Bhutan (just joking) owing to its popularity.

In America, we do not get all the ingredients of this dish and a lot has to be improvised. Where are those delicious green ermas — chillies of Bhutan — totally organic with an aroma so strong that cooking it in one’s house could bring tears in the eyes of the neighbor next door? The pungent smell of the cheese that has been left to stand in a glass jar age mature over a period of time, the freshly churned butter and ermas all stand to make this dish one unforgettable experience? Alas! we have to make do.

Ingredients

  • Jalapeno Peppers (1/2 pound) – this is closest to the native ermas of Bhutan
  • Cottage Cheese (8 oz or 200 grams) (If you are any time close to Jackson Heights or any Indian store check to see if you can get a can of Amul cheese — this brand from India is a really good cheese for this dish)
  • Butter (1 oz)
  • Garlic minced (according to preference)
  • Onions finely chopped(according to preference)
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Slit the Jalapeno peppers through the length of the peppers into two halves. You can de-seed the peppers if you prefer them not so spicy or leave it on if you want it hot. In a small utensil cover the peppers with water and bring to a boil. Leave for a minute or two and remove from heat. Strain off the water and keep the peppers aside.
  2. In a small utensil, on a low flame, melt the butter. Saute the minced garlic cloves and the finely chopped onions till the onion turns a slight brown shade.
  3. Put in the grated cheese and stir continuously. You may want to add a little bit of water. Stir continuously till the mixture begins to boil.
  4. Add in the peppers and stir till the cheese mixture spreads all over the peppers.
  5. Add salt as per taste.
  6. Remove from heat and your erma dha tse is ready to be served.

In Bhutan the similar process is used to cook other dishes — such as Kewa Dha Tse — that includes potatoes. The potatoes are peeled and diced and added to the mixture and cooked till the potatoes are done.