An Ode to Indian Cheese - Tracing Back the History of Cheese Making in India

An Ode to Indian Cheese - Tracing Back the History of Cheese Making in India

We’re so ‘fondue’ of cheese, aren’t we? An ancient food that predates recorded history, Cheese is loved by many across the globe! Healthline proclaims Cheese to be a healthy and delicious source of nutrient unless you’re lactose intolerant or allergic. When we think of cheese what country do we mentally teleport to? Switzerland? Just with the thought of cheese a Turophile (like us) curates mood boards of Swiss chalets, cows, the Alps and snow capped mountains on a bamboo serving tray. But did you know that Cheese existed before written language did? Lets trace back to the history of cheese making to find out more.  

 

When the world puts an eye on details, we are introduced to the tableware exclusively made for cheese consumption. Cheese platters, cutters and serve ware opens up a whole new idea of home and dining accessories.  Owing to a variety of textures in Cheese, kitchen utensils today have been designed and shaped to allow for ease of cutting and serving. Marble cheese platters and gold-plated cutters have replaced flower vases for centerpieces with a side table to serve. Cheese consumption has now transformed into a hobby turning preferences to a chopping board cum cheese platter embedded with a favourite design.

Archeologically speaking- Cheese making traces back to 4,500 years ago. Residues of fatty acids were detected in Indian ceramic vessels. Definitely, many food delicacies possess the properties of lactose, but the tests that were run on these vessels confirmed the residue to be of fermented milk. This could easily mean cottage cheese, that was globalized by the Portuguese who settled in India in the mid 17th century. The Portuguese processed cottage cheese by breaking milk. A recent study on carbon dating of lipid residue brings up a question of whether cheese making was kickstarted in the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia 7,000 years back. 

Cheese today has not only been made in various forms, but is also paired consciously with other foods, occasions and drinks. Champagne is best with Brie, Pinot Noir is best with Gruyere and Cabernet Sauvignon is a dream team when clubbed with perfectly aged Cheddar. Champagne and Brie is a perfect way to incorporate the term “Paris is Always a Good Idea’, by spreading a soft mat, a fancy tray and a picnic with the girlfriends in a Parisian park. While Pinot Noir and Gruyere are for nocturnal romantics. Most of us are well aware of the Mediterranean Cheese phenomenon although our favorite Italian Parmesan and the French Brie are the Audrey Hepburn’s of Cheese.

In India, the significance of cheese making goes back to the mature Harappan period. While cheese was said to be introduced to Indians by Europeans, for decades cheese didn’t make it in the Indian cuisine which is ironic today given that India is in the midst of a cheese boom. For being treated as one of those foreign fancy items, cheesemakers today have enthusiastically embraced Make in India. The food industry is turning its head toward indigenous Indian cheese, gourmet and vegan, we have seen a three-phase evolution of this confection. The journey of cheese making has assured that this particular food group will never be saturated in terms of innovation. Moving out of the shadow of paneer, cheese is now an essential part of middle class homes with school going children to the fast food industry. A land where cheese mainly meant paneer for years, has now developed into a homegrown range to some topnotch handmade artisanal cheese in all parts of India. 

Himalayan Cheese is made in the Kashmir of India. The Kalari, indigenous Indian cheese has made us stop and take a seat. Kalari is decorated in a spiced up North Indian delicacy. As Jammu & Kashmir in India is known for its spices, the Kalari is clubbed with flavorful chutneys inside an Indianized bun which is named the ‘Kalari Kulcha’. On the other hand, Acres wild is made by a family run organic cheesemaking farm in the hills of coonoor while Kase is a Chennai based artisanal cheese brand started by women in 2016. Kalimpong Cheese a mellow but sharp gouda is found in the hills of Kalimpong in West Bengal and for one of the oldest, La Ferme Cheese is a handmade cheese found in Pondicherry. India is a land of diversity in religion, culture and yes, now cheese too! 

Experience the goodness of the cheese of your choice with a dash of India Circus. To add flavour to your cooking or serving experience, choose a cheese board from the house of India Circus. They have a vast range of designer boards which can be used to serve cheese or an entree. Themed between royal palms, to geometrical or arial moments to invisible butterflies, these cheese boards are made of mango wood and have a fine finish. So while we categorise cheese as good food, for serving it needs the best vibrant and colourful board to be done justice with!

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