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7 Indian Cheese To Die For: Kalari To Bandel

Cheese plays a significant role in the culinary traditions of numerous countries, each with its unique flavors and cheese-making methods. Its versatility allows it to be enjoyed in various forms, such as in sandwiches, rolls, or simply on its own. The rich, savory taste of cheese enhances the creaminess and appeal of many dishes. While […]

7 Indian Cheese To Die For: Kalari To Bandel
7 Indian Cheese To Die For: Kalari To Bandel

Cheese plays a significant role in the culinary traditions of numerous countries, each with its unique flavors and cheese-making methods. Its versatility allows it to be enjoyed in various forms, such as in sandwiches, rolls, or simply on its own. The rich, savory taste of cheese enhances the creaminess and appeal of many dishes.

While we are familiar with cheeses like Swiss, cheddar, and mozzarella, there are many lesser-known varieties of Indian cheese worth exploring. Here are seven types of Indian cheese you should try.

Kalari, Kashmir

Kalari, Kashmir
Kalari, Kashmir

Originating from the picturesque valleys of Kashmir, Kalari cheese is made from cow’s milk using a unique process. Instead of boiling the milk, it is heated and then removed from the heat before adding whey water and stirring. This causes the milk to separate, forming a soft, creamy texture. The cream is then collected and squeezed by hand to remove moisture, creating Kalari Tikki pieces that should be stored in an airtight container to prevent quick hardening. Kalari cheese boasts a distinctive aroma and flavor, making it a true culinary delight.

Chhurpi, Himalayan

Chhurpi, Himalayan
Chhurpi, Himalayan

This cheese from the Himalayas, made from Yak’s milk or cow’s milk, is a popular snack in Sikkim known for its longevity. Trekkers often carry it on long journeys as a convenient snack. Chhurpi is considered the hardest cheese in the world, taking 2-3 hours to consume, depending on one’s dental strength. There are also softer versions, made simply with buttermilk or curd. The curd is boiled on low flame until solid mass forms, which is then strained and transferred to a cloth to remove moisture, resulting in Chhurpi cheese.

Kalimpong Cheese, West Bengal

Kalimpong Cheese, West Bengal

From the scenic hill station of Kalimpong, this semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk has a distinct texture and mild flavor. It is a versatile ingredient suitable for various dishes, pairs well with fruits, and is an excellent addition to a charcuterie board with grapes, crackers, ham, and mustard toast. Despite being once considered a lost tradition, food enthusiasts in Kalimpong have revived and sustained this cheese.

Chhena

Chhena
Chhena

Known for its crumbly and soft texture similar to ricotta, Chhena pairs well with toast and chutney. It makes a delightful breakfast or a light snack that doesn’t cause bloating. Chhena is used in popular sweet dishes like Rasgulla and Rasmalai. To make Chhena, buttermilk or curd is added to full-fat cow’s milk or buffalo milk. Lemon juice can substitute buttermilk, but the latter provides better acidity and creaminess. The milk is brought to a slow boil, then buttermilk is added. Once the mixture foams and separates, the Chhena is collected and strained.

Topli Na Paneer, Parsi Cuisine

Topli Na Paneer, Parsi Cuisine
Topli Na Paneer, Parsi Cuisine

Meaning “Paneer in a basket,” this cheese is a specialty of Parsi cuisine, with origins in Persian culinary traditions. Rennet is added to lukewarm milk, which is then separated from the whey. The solid mass is passed through a muslin cloth, scooped into a wicker basket, and flipped at intervals. It is stored in its whey and refrigerated, often enjoyed with roasted cumin powder.

Bandel, West Bengal

Bandel cheese, West Bengal
Bandel cheese, West Bengal

Rooted in Portuguese cuisine, Bandel cheese from Bengal is recognized for its cylindrical shape and crumbly texture. It has a smoky hint, a mildly sweet flavor, but predominantly a savory taste. Made from milk curdled with lemon juice, drained, kneaded, and shaped in baskets, it is cured for two days and sold either smoked or unsmoked. Bandel cheese can be used in sandwiches, paired with wine, or enjoyed as a snack.

Qudam, Kashmir

Qudam, from the Gijjar tribe of Kashmir, is a rare type of paneer with a rubbery texture and salty taste. Its long shelf life is attributed to the traditional method of preparation. It may require a bit of searching in local markets due to its niche production.

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CheeseIndian CheeseIndian CuisineTDGThe Daily Guardian