Yeh cheese bari hai
THE very word ‘cheese’ makes one’s palate flutter. In India cheeses are a luxury while in developed countries they are a part of their daily meal. Dozens of cheeses are available today in hotels, kiosks, restaurants and distinguished households in advanced countries. Earlier, two types of vegetarian cottage cheeses only were prepared from milk in the form of paneer and chhiddi relished during vedic and post-vedic periods.
The two demonstrations on cheese-making I attended at the Danish Embassy in Stockholm sometime ago gave me an insight into the process.
Basically, a cheese is made when curd is drained of whey. The simplest form of cheese is the cottage cheese and it is the mother of all cheeses. Modern types of non-vegetarian cheese was invented when the milk carried in pouch made out of sheeps stomach curdled due to rennets effect in milk in the presence of sun’s heat and produced a tasty coagulated milk by separating curd and whey.
Twenty types of most
popular cheeses are shown in the illustration. The famous French
gastronome Anthelme Brillat Savarin once said that a dinner without
cheese is like a beautiful woman with one eye. It is the bacteria which
gives every cheese its character. Fresh cheese becomes sweeter as
bacteria starts feeding upon its lactic acid.
Today, cheese preparation in India has a market of Rs 70 crore annually.
Cheese is best digested when lightly cooked. It is best kept in a fridge in a ventilated cover. Many cheeses are surface ripened by deliberate introduction of bacteria or moulds. complex chemical processes transfer the casein on the surface into other compounds forming a protective surface like a rind.
In fact, this prevents moisture and air to penetrate into the cheese mass. Enzymes from them diffuse through the interior and ripen it. Sometimes green moulds are introduced to form a growth and provide the distinctive flavour to the blue vein cheese. In India, due to popular belief, a vegetarian version of rennent is used in preparing various varieties of processed cheeses.
Special strong-smelling cheeses with worms crawling in them are considered to be a great treat amongst connoisseurs of cheeses and the tiny worm component is also to be eaten along with the cheese piece.
Large chunks of cheeses can be seen covered with moisture-proof films. Gradual ripening is done by bacteria and enzymes. This helps in producing harder, more aromatic and stronger flavoured cheese.
Various renowned dairies in India have
started making cottage cheese, cheese spread, sliced processed cheese
and pizza cheese which are getting a good growing market demand now.