A Mosaic of Flavor: Bhutanese Ema Datshi and Nepali Cabbage Salad

On Wednesday night, participants in our Community Teaching Kitchen were lucky enough to enjoy a cooking class led by Maya Gurung-Subba and Suk Subba, owners of Maya’s Kitchen at 1130 North Ave here in Burlington. We enjoyed a wonderful night of cooking, good food, and lively conversation as part of City Market’s A Mosaic of Flavor series. The A Mosaic of Flavor cooking series is a collaboration between City Market and USCRI (formerly the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program) and brings in instructors from a variety of countries to teach participants about their home country’s cuisine. 

Our first dish was Bandah Ko Achar, a Nepali cabbage salad with a dressing of mashed potato, sesame seed paste, and a delicious spiced oil. Students showed off their knife skills slicing some massive heads of local cabbage and vibrant red onions into thin strips, while others used julienne peelers to make quick work of a pile of local orange and purple carrots. Maya heated some vegetable oil in a small pan and then added a mixture of fenugreek and turmeric to toast. When the hot oil and spices were poured into the pot, it softened everything just enough so that it wasn’t completely raw but left a lot of satisfying crunch to contrast with the creamy richness of the dressing! To add to that delicious crunch, we also threw in some peas that Maya and Suk had soaked overnight, and then tossed in a bunch of fresh cilantro and lemon juice to add some brightness.

Meanwhile, participants were also preparing Bhutanese Ema Datshi, sometimes called “the national dish of Bhutan”. This intriguing stew is filled with local daikon radish, potato, and red and green sweet peppers. The inclusion of lots of fresh ginger, turmeric, curry powder, and dried chili peppers added a warming heat that kept the chill of the Vermont winter night at bay. The soup was then enriched with a combination of plain yogurt, feta cheese, and butter, resulting in a thick, creamy stew perfect for ladling over the fluffy basmati rice Maya prepared in her enormous rice cooker. A small bowl was very rich and filling!

Everyone had a great time learning some recipes that they weren’t familiar with and hearing about Maya and Suk’s personal histories. We all left with full bellies and a smile on our faces, and hopefully Maya and Suk will be back to teach us more about their culture’s cooking.

If this blog post is making your mouth water, make sure to check out Maya and Suk's restaurant at https://www.mayaskitchenvt.com/ , or visit in person at 1130 North Ave. in Burlington to try some of their delicious cuisine for yourself!