This will probably come as a big surprise to many, but Bharat in fact produces some of the finest artisanal cheese in the world. Since the days of yore, Bharat is known to prepare the best and most innovative sweets and dishes from milk and its products.
Cheese was introduced in the 1960s by Amul and received a favourable response. Some fromagers experimented with cow’s milk from a single species reared in small farms in the 1970s. After many trials, the final product was found to be very earthy, creamy with a specific tartness which was not seen in processed cheese as that is made by blending different types of cheese to get the desired taste.
What makes Kodaikanal the ideal place for making cheese is the gorgeous weather, lush green hills and fertile soil rich in organic matter which makes the grass more tasty and nutritious. Another interesting point is that each cheesemaker here has built up a formidable reputation in the country and their signature cheese flies off the shelves in a matter of minutes.
There is the Kodai Blue – a salty blue cheese, traditional Parmesan, Cinnamano – a hard Italian-style cheese, Cinnableu – creamy blue cheese, Gouda, Feta, Edam, Bocconcini, extra-sharp cheese, Parmesan chilly, Cambrie, Cinnabar Colby and others for one to indulge in.
The quality of milk procured in small farms either from cows or goats depends heavily on the feed given and general health and hygiene of the animals. The farm-fresh milk is first pasteurized, after which the starter culture and microbial coagulating ingredients are added. The resultant curd mass is then cooked along with specific herbs, flavouring agents and spices.
The cheese is left to mature after which it is packed and sold in local markets. It is important to note that all the serious cheesemakers abide only by the age-old wisdom and standard measures. All the handmade gourmet cheese made here has no chemicals and is 100 percent vegetarian.
The market for artisanal cheese is steadily growing with more and more hotel chains and restaurateurs preferring exotic cheese over processed cheese for their creations.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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