They smell like old socks to some but are like nectar to others. Cheeses today are being used on Pizzas, Tacos, on toast, served on a Cheese Board at society dinners or just munched as a snack. Chefs are using Parmesan to coat prawns, Gruyere to melt in pancakes and adding processed cheese to ke
babs. How do you know what they all taste like and the one best suited to your needs? Where do you get them? What can you expect to pay? And how, with the smell the way it is, can you distinguish the fresh from the rancid? At our farmers markets, we are delighted to have introduced many local cheeses to Indian consumers. Let’s take a look at types of cheese available in the market – both imported and local and a list of where you can get your hands on them.
Basic Cheese varieties available in India
This round, cannonball shaped Dutch cheese with a coating of red wax, is a family favourite world-wide. This is an ideal table and sandwich cheese. It also keeps very well in the fridge if you wrap the exposed area after cutting with cling film. Avoid cheese, which has cracks or splits.
You either love or hate these natural cheeses, which have been injected with a penicillin fungus to produce blue veins. Amateurs should tread carefully. They have an overbearing aroma and a very sharp taste. The three Great Blues are Roquefort from France, Gorgonzola, from Italy and English Stilton. Danish Blue is the most accessible in India. Ideal as an after dinner cheese or in a salad dressing or dip. Blues are lovely eaten as is with a fig or stone fruit chutney and a glass of dessert wine.
Brie, like its cousin Camembert, is always in the shape of a disc and is nearly always mild, buttery and flavourful with a creamy, honey like centre. Perfect with walnuts and fresh fruit like grapes. Fancy chefs put it into a soufflé.
Like its Swiss cousin Emmental, it has a sweet, dry flavour with a nutty aftertaste. It is harder and has fewer holes than Emmental. An ideal after dinner cheese with dried fruit and nuts and is used in a traditional Fondue along with Emmental or in any cheese sauce.
A soft, white, bland tasting cheese which is used almost always for Pizzas because of its stretchability and quick melting properties Fresh creamy Buffalo Mozzarella is ideal with tomatoes and basil in a salad called Caprese.
A salty, white Greek cheese used mainly in salads. Crumble it into spinach dishes, sauces or salads. Almost always used in salads, never on a cheese board.
A firm cheese with a buttery taste. It has a yellow wax rind and is creamier than Edam. Is both a great table and cooking cheese. Smoked Gouda is made by natural smoking techniques. Gouda produced in India is exceptionally good.
These are cheeses, which are soft with very little real flavour but are consistent and uniform in taste, texture. They are less prone to spoilage and take very well to added spices and flavours like Pepper, Garlic and so on. They are good for both sandwiches and snacks. No need to go for imported ones. The ones produced in India are very good.
A natural, English hard cheese, which can range from mild and mellow to rich and nutty. A very good munching cheese along with a slice of apple, for sandwiches and in cooking.
These range from the health conscious cottage cheese to the creamier Philadelphia cream cheese. Usually used for Cheesecakes or piled onto smoked salmon, celery or used as a base for dips. Mascarpone is the Italian version of cream cheese and is an integral part of the dessert Tiramisu.
The Queen of Italian cheeses, it is hard and crumbly with a grainy texture. It comes from Parma in northern Italy and is aged for at least two to three years. Sprinkle on pasta or eat bits of it as a table cheese with figs, peaches and grapes or a sweet fruit, mustard flavoured chutney known as mostarda
HOW FATTENING IS CHEESE?
Cream cheese has a fat content of approximately 28%. Processed cheese is approx’ 26-27%, which includes cheese spreads too. Natural Cheddar is 36%. To give you a comparison; butter is 80% fat and oil, 100% fat !!!!!
Cheese an ideal concentrated protein food when eaten at the end of a meal it assists in the prevention of dental cavities because of its alkaline content. Despite a wide variety of flavours and textures, the nutritional value of hard cheeses is very similar. They provide an excellent source of calcium and phosphorous, a moderate source of protein and vitamin A. They are high in saturated fat with moderate amounts of cholesterol.
HOW TO SERVE
Cheese in France is served after the salad and main course but before dessert. In Britain, it is served after dessert. The thumb rule is to serve at least 4 cheeses on a cheeseboard – one hard, one semi-hard, one semi-soft, one blue.
HOW TO STORE CHEESE
With our humidity and heat, wrap cheese in foil or cling film and keep it in the warmest part of the refrigerator (cheese compartment) or in the vegetable tray. Try not to freeze cheese. It affects the taste, texture and meltability. Don’t be afraid of a bit of mould. This is a sign that the cheese is ‘natural’ with no preservatives. Just cut or scrape it off and use the rest.
The Best Indian artisanal cheeses available
Altitude store (www.thealtitudestore.com)
Ayesha Grewal is deeply committed to sourcing and producing fabulous cheese on her farm outside Delhi. In addition to producing a great young goat cheese, she also keeps cheese from New Himalayan Products and Kodai as well as the Organic German Bakeshop at her shop in Meher chand Market in Delhi. Also visit her new café recently opened a few doors down.
Tel: The Altitude Store – 011 4905 0404
Sunil and Deepali Bhu have a huge range of cheese in their Meher chand Market store in Delhi, The Cheese Ball. They also participate in our markets in Delhi and can be contacted online and on the email/phone. Do try the smoked gouda and goat cheese as well as soft goat cheese which are great as dips and spreads.
Tel: The Cheese Ball – 011 2465 3789
La Ferme Cheese (www.auroville.org/contents/112)
La Ferme from Auroville is one of the last few small producers in Pondicherry (Auroville) making hand-made cheese. Their team of professional cheese makers are from Italy and Holland. They are well known for their feta and ricotta and their own soft cheese known as Lofabu. They also do something known as Auroblochon – a take on the traditional French cheese know as Reblochon.
Kodai Cheese (www.kodaidairyproducts.com)
Hari Shankar produces some lovely varieties including a wonderful blue as well as cheddar varieties with chilli and pepper. His cheeses are available all over the country, particularly in Goa
Hari Shankar– 9786292358 (Kodaikanal)
Caroselle cheese (www.carosellecheese.com)
American born Patti and her partner produce the best camembert in India in the hills of Kodaikanal. Wrapped in round arica palm boxes developed by them for the cheese, these are the closest to the original thing you will find outside France. Their wheels of Italian style Montasio is an absolute knock out in risotto.
Patti Tower – 9159648366
A large company now producing a cream cheese very similar to Philadelphia at a fraction of the cost. They also have excellent whipping cream. Since they are from Maharashtra, their products are easily available in Pune and Mumbai.
Vijay Rathi – 9820437922
Spotted Cow Fromagerie (www.thespottedcow.in)
Amazing that in the humidity of Dhaisar in Mumbai Spotted Cow Fromagerie owned by Prateeksh and Agnay Mehta, manage to make the most amazing Camembert.
Agnay – 9870099338 (Mumbai)
The Cheese Collective (www.facebook.com/TheCheeseCollective/)
Mansi Jasani of the Cheese Collective does a wonderful job of curating and collecting artisanal cheese from around the world. She holds cheese tasting sessions in Mumbai and Pune which is a very important part of becoming a true cheese lover.
Mansi – 9820331841 (Mumbai)
Father Michael, a Benedictine priest and monk living in Bangalore, learnt the skill of cheese making when he spent a year at their sister monastery in Tuscany. Their creamy burrata has fooled many an Italian. Unbelievable! Their mozzarella is also very good.
9845449064 / 9964958572
Curemonte Cheese (www.curemontecheese.com)
Curemonte brings together a range of artisanal gourmet and small producer cheeses. They themselves make fabulous cheese in Mysore.
Vinay – 9632222111 (Bangalore)
Kase Cheese (www.facebook.com/kasechennai)
Namrata and her friend Anuradha, two IT professionals came together recently to pursue a passion to create employment for the differentially able. They currently sell only in Chennai. Most of what they produce is fresh. Haloumi encrusted with mint and herbs, feta with charred leek and mozzarella…an excellent start
Namrata – 9940654634
Dairy Craft (www.dairycraft.com)
Dairy Craft is a well oiled cheese producer from Delhi. In addition to producing a great variety of cheeses including a good scamorza and smoked cheddar, they also sell a few imported cheeses
Isha Juneja -9654231000
Corona Cheese is a small yet significant company making cheese and butter started by Indo Russian couple, Charudatta Babar and his wife Olga in the dry and dusty town of Satara in Maharashtra. Limited availability but worth looking out for!
Tel: Tanvi Babar – 9922985400