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Types Of Indian Cheese You Didn’t Know About

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09 Min Read

Believe it or not, paneer is just the start of it

Bhavika Govil

If asked, most of us can rattle off names of cheese such as gouda, parmesan, feta, brie cheddar, camembert—you get the idea—with delicious ease. The story takes a rather sombre twist when asked about those with Indian origin, however. Read this list to know more about the lesser-known counterparts of paneer and their origins in India.

 

Bandel 

 

The Bandel cheese, a salty, crumbly thing, owes its name to the town of Bandel in West Bengal, which was once under Portugese territory. Available as small dumpling-sized balls in Kolkata, Bandel has a very dry texture and smoky flavour, and is often soaked overnight to soften. It is then added to dishes—sprinkled on crackers, tossed on salad, or sometimes, like feta, indulged covertly on its own.

Chhena 

A lesser-known variant of paneer, you may have tried chhena if you’ve spent some time in West Bengal. With Portugese origins, this Indian cheese is made by heating milk, and curdling it with a splitting agent, often lemon juice. This is then drained very lightly to lend the chenna its crumbly texture. The popular Indian sweet rasgulla is made using boiled chhena balls lathered with sugar syrup—and it is also used to make sandesh, rasmalai and cham cham, loved Bengali sweet. At home, however, people simply spread some chhena on toast and pop it in as a snack.

Kalari 

 
 
 
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If you think paneer is the only real cheese that has originated in India, you are grossly mistaken. In fact, we proudly incorporate two wonderful indigenous Indian cheeses on our current menu at @thebombaycanteen — the Parsi topli paneer and the smoked Bandel cheese from the eponymous town in West Bengal. . For those not in the know, this particular one is Kalari or Maish Krej, originally a cheese from Jammu with a dense yet stretchy texture and a mild Mozzarella-like flavor. Traditionally made with raw full fat milk which is churned in an iron pot and then curdled with sour milk, modern techniques like this one (swipe to watch video) used by Himalayan Products in Langanbal have made the process simpler and more efficient. Once the curds are formed, they are flattened by hand into what are basically “milk rotis” before being allowed to cool and dry. . Kalari is typically prepared by heating the cheese directly on a tawa and allowing it to cook in it’s own fat. Reshma, the Gujjar shepherd who invited us into her home for a meal, was kind enough to cook us some Kalari cheese pan seared in mustard oil so it’s crispy on the outside and chewy soft on the inside. . Himalayan Cheese is a local cheese factory set up by Dutchman Chris Zandee nearly 10 years ago which collects milk from over a hundred Gujjar & Bakarwal families in the Pahalgam area to make several different kinds of cheese and support the local community. Thanks @marryam for connecting us and Ramneek for making this happen! #chefontheroad #kalari #kalaricheese #himayalanproducts #himalayancheese #chriszandee #homecookedmeal #pahalgam #gujjars #valleyofshepherds #kashmirdiairies #kashmiricuisine #foodtrip #foodtravel #regionalindianfood #willtravelforfood #indianfoodmovement #indiainspiredcooking #thebombaycanteen #indiainspired #cheflife #srinagar #kashmir

A post shared by Thomas Zacharias (@cheftzac) on Mar 8, 2018 at 9:22pm PST

 

Kalari or maish krej is a local cheese often alluded to as the mozzarella of Kashmir. Milk  by the nomadic Gujjar tribe of the J&K, the kalari is essentially dense round discs of cheese (even called milk chapatti), and is often consumed by deep-frying and seasoning with salt and chilly powder. Cheesemakers such as Chris Zandee are making it available through his artisanal cheese brand Himalayan Cheese, which can reach you, in whichever corner of India you sit, at a simple add to a virtual cart.

 

Kalimpong cheese

 
 
 
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By the window side of an overcast mountain. #wine#whitewine#cheese#kalimpongcheese#books#mountain#overcastskies#clouds

A post shared by the nooks and crannies (@the_nooks_and_crannies) on Jun 20, 2015 at 4:24am PDT

 

An ode to the cheerful valley of Kalimpong, the Kalimpong cheese was first surprisingly first made in Sikkim by priest Brother Abraham. A mouthful of it may taste slightly similar to the gouda cheese and has a sharp, tangy taste which is enjoyed with a glass of wine. It’s available by the wheel, so be prepared to barrel it back home. 

  

Chhurpi

 
 
 
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#Chhurpi

A post shared by Pakhrin Lee (@pakhrin_lee_) on Aug 1, 2018 at 9:37pm PDT

 

Born in the Himalayas, Chhurpi is a yak milk-based cheese that is known for its high-protein and nutritional value. It is commonly made in the regions of Nepal, Tibet and in India, and can be found in street corners in the Northeastern state of Sikkim. Ordinarily, chhurpi has two varieties—soft and hard. The softer chhurpi is often used as part of a filling for momos, and even added to simple, homemade chutneys.

 

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