Did you know that there are several types of cheese available in India? A few consider it safe to stick to a particular brand and kind of cheese. Since India is not a traditional cheese making country, most of us know nothing beyond the humble cottage cheese or Paneer. So when it comes to picking up cheese from the endless racks of dairy products at shopping malls, people stick to the basic processed cheese slices manufactured by Amul, Gowardhan, Mother Dairy and the like.
But then, you are losing out on a wonderfully delectable opportunity to taste some equally delicious varieties of cheese just because you don’t know all of them too well. From the easy- to- melt Mozarella to the firm and hard Parmesan cheese, how can you tell them apart? What are the benefits of each? And what the heck is Blue Cheese?
All said and done, we’re more than happy to show you the different types of cheese in India.
Types Of Cheese In India
To begin with, let’s get the basics right. The taste and texture of cheese is based on criteria like the duration of ageing, fat content, country of origin, the moisture content, the curing method used and whether it is goat, buffalo, cow or sheep milk. Did you know that a farm known as The Elk House in Sweden actually produces cheese from Moose milk?
Natural Cheese Vs Processed
Natural cheese is usually made by separating milk from water with the help of lemon, bacteria or vinegar. This is then mixed with curd in the coagulation process. The taste develops as the cheese ages. No preservatives, no chemicals. It is more solid in texture as compared to processed cheese and has lesser amount of moisture. However, unlike processed cheese, natural cheese separates into solids and oil when melted.
Processed cheese has a longer shelf life as a result of preservatives that go into them. It has more fat content, added flavours, emulsifying agents, whey, food colour and what not. It is creamier in texture and melts uniformly on your burger. It is cheaper than natural cheese.
It is for you to decide which one is a healthier option. Check out this link for how cheese is made .
Types of cheese available in India
This semi solid cheese has a very creamy texture. Made from pasteurized buffalo or cow’s milk, it has very high moisture content. The colour is mostly white or a slight yellow depending on what the animal has been feeding on. It is mostly used in Pizza, Lasagne and Pasta on account of its stringy texture when melted. Mozzarella goes down well with raw salads too.
A large rind of yellow Emmental cheese with lots of holes in it – I used to love watching poor Jerry save his cheese from the wily Tom. (These were a few cartoon shows kids watched back in the 80s – that’s when I grew up )
This is originally a Swiss cheese made of unpasteurised cow’s milk. This is a medium hard cheese with a nice, yellow colour. The flavour is a bit sharp and nutty. A typical slice of Emmental cheese has holes made by the release of gases caused by bacteria. It melts really well and is mostly used in grilled sandwiches and sauces or dips. In fact, it is traditionally used in making fondue.
Parmesan is always on the list for a top cheese connoisseur. This is a hard grating cheese made of unpasteurised cow’s milk. It has a light brown shade of dry, crumbly straw. It can be grated over Pizzas, Pastas and soups. This cheese has a strong aroma and sharp, nutty flavour. The calcium content in this cheese is quite good.
By Daniele Pugliesi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Dieter’s delight, fresh ricotta cheese is low in fat and high in protein. This cheese is made from milk whey that is usually left after cheese production. It tastes mildly sweet and can be used in desserts like cheesecake and Tiramisu. You can use it to thicken sauces and make dips for bread. Use ricotta cheese instead of paneer for a low fat version of palak paneer. You can even beat this cheese with sugar and used it in pastry stuffing.
By Ewan Munro from London, UK (Clifton, St John’s Wood, LondonUploaded by tm) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Make spicy and yummy kebabs with this cheese. Halloumi is perfectly grillable. Made from sheep’s raw milk (some cheese makers take a mix of sheep’s and goat’s milk), it tastes salty with a rubbery texture. This is meant to be grilled and eaten instead of eating it as it is. On grilling, it tastes crisp outside with a nice buttery centre.
This cheese is made from sheep’s whole milk. Loaded with 60 percent fat, this is a soft, crumbly textured cheese with small holes, which can be eaten as a snack or used as a salad dressing. It is usually kept to age for 4 to 6 weeks in salty whey and brine – so it’s also known as pickled cheese.
Blauschimmelkäse IMGP5469 wp by smial (talk) – Own work. Licensed under FAL via Wikimedia Commons
Don’t get flabbergasted with the varieties of blue cheeses available in the market. Blue veined cheese is marked by a distinct pungent flavour and rich, creamy texture. It is not a vegetarian cheese. You can buy the Danish daniblu variety of blue cheese here in India. It is very interesting to note how blue cheese is made . This can be sliced and placed on crusty brown bread or even added as a salad dressing. What makes it blue is Pencillium roqueforti which is a fungus that breeds on curds.
You can buy a whole lot of seasoned cheeses like Jeera Cheese by La Ferme, Auroville.
Cheddar is always made of pasteurised cow’s milk. Dense and creamy, it earns its name from a process called cheddaring – in which stacks of pressed curds are placed on one another to remove moisture. Then these are cut into small pieces and again stacked up in layers. This process is repeated till almost all the whey and moisture goes out of the cheese. This accounts for the crumbly, layered texture of cheddar cheese after it is aged for around 9 months or more.
One of the oldest cheeses in the world, Gouda cheese traces its origin to Netherlands. It has a high calcium and fat content. It can be aged anywhere between 3 months to five years. Properly aged Gouda cheese has a sweet milky flavour. Usually it is given an orange colour by adding natural colouring pigments like carotene. Relish it with fruit and wine or sandwiches. You can add it to salads too.
Of course, this is a very teeny weeny list of types of cheese available in India. More and more cheese makers in India are venturing into the manufacture of exotic European cheeses.
Where to buy good quality natural cheese online
All leading online grocery stores like Bigbasket.com, Nature’s basket by Godrej, Localbanya etc. sell leading brands of good quality natural cheese. In fact, Nature’s Basket has an entire section devoted to cheese. You’ll find a good variety – Brie, Emmental, Cheddar, Blue cheese and some nice goat cheese too.
A basic search on JustDial or Google Search will give you a comprehensive list of gourmet cheese retailers and shops in Mumbai. Buying online is more convenient I guess if you don’t have the time, that is.
Check out this interesting and inspiring list of excellent quality natural cheese makers in India .
And Yes! Please do share with our readers in case you know of good cheese retailers or shops in India, in the comments section below.