January 05, 2012


dar tshil:

Jäschke records dar tshil providing Isaak Jakob Schmidt’s Tibetan-German dictionary and the meaning given there is “groin” followed by a question mark. The word cannot be found in the Tshig mdzod chen mo. I have no idea what Schmidt’s sources were, but I wonder if dar tshil means “cheese” as in the case of rDzong-kha, the national language of Bhutan, its etymology being “buttermilk-fat.”


  1. This syllable dar meaning buttermilk: Isn't it usually spelled in two syllables: da-ra, so isn't this an instance of how 2 syllables get collapsed into one when they become part of another 2-syllable expression? I'm not entirely clear on it, but isn't buttermilk-fat the main stuff cheese is made out of (or would that be curd)? Sorry, I have some farming background, but no experience with cheese making, I'm afraid. In any case, I do like to have it in sandwiches. I see there is quite a lot out there on the internet about the Bhutanese dish Ema Datshi! This is nice to see. The internet recipes I saw there recommend using "Danish feta cheese," and Feta Cheese is very easy to find where I live. Do you think it's the right kind of cheese to use?


  2. Yes it is spelt as da ra and as dar ba. As far as the cheese-making in Bhutan is concerned, (a) milk is first turned into curd, and (b) curd is churned to extract butter. (c) That white liquid minus butter is our buttermilk (da ra / dar ba). (d) Cheese is then extracted from buttermilk by heating it at a low temperature. Bhutanese cheese, therefore, is always defatted or low in fat. (e) The slightly sour and bluish-whitish liquid that remains is called khyur khu (“cheese-solution/juice”). People drink phyur khu at meals. I personally don't like it. (f) One can also extract a kind of Harzer-Käse-like low-fat cheese but it does not taste good at all. One can also make Mozzarella-like cheese with fresh milk (mostly when people have no time to wait and let milk turn sour) but for most Bhutanese it is a waste of resource since no butter or only little butter can be gained in this way. They would not like to use Mozzarella-like cheese for e ma dar tshil. It will be too sticky. Bhutanese cheese is thus usually of only one kind. My favorite cheese for making e ma dar tshil in Europe is: Camembert called Domédiction. It is ripe cheese. Feta cheese, in my view, does not make good e ma dar tshil. But it is, of course, better than no cheese!