“Life is great. Cheese makes it better.” – Avery Aames
When we ask Indians to name one cheese that they know, they mostly say paneer (cottage cheese). Something that is quintessentially a part of a working man’s diet. India isn’t known for its cheeses as much as it’s known for its produce, but that perception is slowly but steadily changing. Long gone are the days when we had to wait for our family to come from foreign lands or spend exorbitant amounts of money to buy imported cheese- which we then use as sparingly as possible.
Store-bought and processed cheese aren’t all that is available now. We found ten cheesemakers here in India, who bring cheesy goodies made in-house now to your doorstep. Made with the finest products and freshest ingredients, these homegrown cheese brands are definitely going to blow your mind.
Developed in the experimental township of Auroville in Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu, La Ferme Cheese found its way of providing cheese for their citizens. Founded in 1988, the cheese is produced in ways Auroville is most known for; ethically and in-house. The milk is procured from the farms inside the township and the cheese is devoid of preservatives, artificial flavours or colours. There are a variety of cheeses available from fresh cheeses like Feta and Mozzarella to seasoned cheeses like Gruyere, Parmesan and Cheddar.
Started more than a decade ago in Siolim, Goa by Barbara Schwarzfischer, artisanal cheese brand Happy Cow Cheese has found its way across all major supermarkets in North Goa. With more than 20 years of experience in traditional Swiss cheese-making, she realised that Indian cheese lacked what European cheeses are famed for; taste. Having worked as an intern for cheese manufacturers in the Alps, she decided to use that knowledge and start a production line for cheeses like Camembert and Brie to Greek Feta and Blue Cheese. Intending to provide a ‘gourmet’ experience for clients and friends, Happy Cow Cheese brings the Swiss cheese to the Indian table.
A cheesemaker whose foundation of production lies in making good quality cheese that matches European standards! Founded in Delhi by Sunil Bhu, this homegrown cheesemaker owes his skills and practises to a well-renowned cheese-maker in Diksmuide, Flanders. Thanks to the knowledge imparted to him by the cheese masters of Italy, we now have some of the finest European cheeses handcrafted in India. With a mix of modern and ancient cheese making techniques, Flanders Dairy Product produces some of the finest cheeses from Gouda and Mascarpone to Scamorza, Kwark and Burrata.
A micro-creamery in Mumbai making European inspired cheese classics, Eleftheria was founded by Mausam Jotwani. What started as an idea to make artisanal cheese for her family, the business has now expanded to being a full-time job. As with any good cheese, every ingredient is locally sourced forming artisanal delectable cheese. A trip to Germany and a tasting of their cheese proved to be an eye-opener on the possibilities beyond processed cheeses available in India. Eleftheria is known to produce gourmet cheese in a jar with their creamy cheese spread Fromage blanc along with others like Burrata, Feta and Mozzarella.
Cheese straight from the valleys of Kashmir, Himalayan Cheese is a unique enterprise run by Dutchman Chris Zandee using his Dutch heritage and techniques. With its core values revolving around Fair Trade and the socio-economic development of the natives—the company makes sure to deal directly with the local farmers saying goodbye to the middlemen. With milk being procured from cattle that graze on the Himalayan mountains, the cheese made is surely delicious. From gourmet cheeses like Gouda and Cheddar, Himalayan Cheese specialises in cheese called Kalari. ‘Maish Krej’ as it’s called in Kashmir or ‘milk chapati’ this cheese is equivalent to the Mozzarella with its stringy, creamy texture. No wonder it’s called the Mozzarella of Kashmir.
Dhvani Desai is a former business journalist who began her journey of cheesemaking from the city of Mumbai. With the aim to produce delicious, gourmet flavours Casa Del Cheese produces exotic, European-inspired produce. With it being 100 percent natural, with no chemicals or preservatives these cheeses are handmade and as they like to say, a product of love. With fresh milk being brought in from the dairies around Mumbai, the cheeses are made in small batches and run out pretty quickly. The cheeses are pure, unadulterated and healthy, from their personal innovation Snowcake to Greek-style Feta, they’ve got all the good stuff.
Coonoor has wholeheartedly accepted Acres Wild gourmet cheese as part of their history. This 22-acre family-run cheesemaking farm is too good to be true. It has a self-sustaining management that also provides visitors with a farm stay with bed and breakfast. This farm in Tamil Nadu believes in making their artisanal natural rind cheeses in house by hand—to promote a healthy life and belief in being eco-friendly. As cheese-making has grown through the years so has their varieties, from hard to soft cheeses. As they are made in-house on the farm the availability of these cheeses vary. Acres Wild provides you with the holistic experience of enjoying farm life while digging into your favourite cheese.
It all started when Aga, Bathena and Chinoy (ABC) came up with the idea of making cheese. Back in 1976 with only 14 cows in hand, the legacy of cheesemaking continues to date. Run by Sohrab Chinoy and his family, this 27-acre farm in Pune produces close to 70 different varieties of cheese. With such a wide range of cheese that no other homegrown cheesemaker has touched, ABC Farms have maintained its quality with the unparalleled taste the cheeses have to offer. From salty Ricotta to Port Wine cheese, Vodka and Cumin cheese to a Monterey Jack the list is endless.
Millie Mitra grew up in a vegetarian Gujarati family, owing to her lactose intolerance she had to say goodbye to all things dairy. Now the hardest thing to give up once you go plant-based is cheese. With her children prodding her to make an alternative, Millie started making vegan soft cheese. Cashew and sometimes tofu-based, she makes the cheeses from Mangalorian cashews, Himalayan Pink Salt and her homemade. sun-dried tomatoes. With a single comment by Chef Marco Pierre White calling her cheese the ‘Best Cheese in India’, Millie went from selling her vegan cheeses in farmers markets to making it available all across the country. The crowd favourites are her soft cheeses like the herbed spread and burnt chilli garlic and the hard cheese varieties of jalapeño and sun-dried tomatoes.
Artisanal. Handmade. Local. These are the principles brothers Prateeksh Mehra and Agnay Mehra stand by. What started as a hobby for commercial photographer Mehra has turned into a full-fledged profession now. Founded in 2014 in Mumbai this small creamery makes 100 percent vegetarian and preservative-free artisanal cheeses. Since it is not mass-produced, The Spotted Cow Fromagerie makes cheese and does not manufacture it. Their products range from Italian to French to fresh soft cheeses. Inspired by the European way of making cheese, but using Indian products the cheeses have something that remains unique to this country.
What started as a business to make flavoured butter, Mooz Formaggio has grown leaps and bounds in providing the people of India with exquisite cheeses. With their base set in Delhi/NCR, these cheesemakers supply major supermarkets across India. Their penchant for taste and the need to push boundaries have made them come with unique and interesting flavours of cheese like garlic and chilly Mozzarella, black pepper Cheddar and the basics like fresh Mozzarella, Cream Cheese, Bocconcini and Feta.
American writer and editor, Clifton Fadiman once said, “A cheese may disappoint. It may be dull, it may be naive, it may be over sophisticated. Yet it remains, cheese, milk’s leap toward immortality.” These words do seem to hold deep value to these homegrown independent cheesemakers in India. With ranges so vast and it being available across the country, one cannot say that we miss the European imports!
[Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock]