Homegrown cheeses you need to have in your pantry
Begum Victoria’s Havarti
Bengaluru-based urban artisanal cheese brand, Begum Victoria offers a range of organic cheese that’s hand-made from responsibly sourced A2 cow’s milk. Try their Havarti, a Danish-style semi-hard cheese with a springy texture and subtle sweet and acidic notes. “The longer the cheese is aged, the more intensely flavourful it becomes; we typically age it for 3-6 months,” says co-founder Shruti Golchha. Havarti is great on a cheeseboard alongside hard cheeses, or you can make a grilled cheese sandwich, or melt it into pasta dishes. Golchha recommends pairing it with a Pinot Noir or Merlot or even a Chardonnay, which will complement its buttery flavour.
When Eleftheria won a silver rating for its Brunost at the World Cheese Awards 2021, it confirmed what we knew all along—this Mumbai-based artisanal creamery makes one of the most exciting cheeses in India. Brunost is a Norwegian-style whey cheese that tastes like savoury salted caramel milk fudge. “It is made by cooking and caramelizing cheese whey slowly over open fire for 8-9 hours,” says founder Mausam Jotwani Narang, adding that Eleftheria is the first creamery to make this cheese in the country. Traditionally, Brunost is eaten thinly sliced over toast or crackers with a dab of berry jam.
Käse Cheese’s Barrel-aged Feta
In Chennai, Käse Cheese is pushing the envelope when it comes to cheese-making, whether it is pastoral cheese made from ethically sourced indigenous goat, sheep, and camel milk or collaborating with Fratelli Wines to make a range of vineyard inspired cheese. “Our barrel-aged feta is made with goat milk and is aged in brine in a barrel for two weeks followed by three weeks in a cold chamber. Its complexity in flavours develop from exposure to the barrel.
Darima Farms’ Zarai
Located in Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand, Darima Farms truly embodies “vocal for local”. Their cheese is made with milk procured from nearby villages, and the cheese-making team is dominated by local women. While you will find everything from cheddar and parmesan to gruyère and gouda, the pièce de resistance is Zarai, a young spice-rubbed cheese.
Meraki’s Ashen Lactic
Kolkata’s first artisanal cheesemaker, Meraki Artisan Cheese & Rustic Bakes opened in 2018. Founder Arpita Nag makes everything from feta and mozzarella to cheddar and smoked gouda. However, the most interesting one in her repertoire is the charcoal-coated Valencay-style cheese. “While Valencay is traditionally made with goat milk, we use cow milk for this cheese. We coat it with pinewood ash and age it for three weeks,” says Nag. This mould-ripened semi-soft cheese has a mild, grassy taste—creamy on the inside with an earthy, smoky exterior. It’s excellent on salads or grated in sandwiches, pastas and pizzas. Or serve it on a cheeseboard paired with sparkling wine.
The Spotted Cow Fromagerie’s Bombrie
Brie is one the classic French cheeses with a distinct bloomy white rind and creamy texture. While it is AOC-protected (appellation d'origine contrôlée, i.e., only cheese made in the region of Brie, France that can be named as such), Mumbai’s The Spotted Cow Fromagerie makes a version that’s as close to the original as possible. “Our Bombrie is a very versatile cheese and can be used as table cheese as well as many dishes can be made with it. The easiest way is to bake it and add a variety of toppings—garlic and herbs or honey and pecans—depending on the occasion