Thursday, January 26, 2012: 10:13:10 PM

Food Processing Poll Feature

Variants of cheese

While most are familiar with the typical processed cheese, there exist several wonderful variants that the Indian consumer is still unaware of

While milk constitutes an important part of the Indian diet, cheese as a milk product is yet to establish its market completely. Broadly, variants of milk products popular among Indians are ghee, butter, cottage cheese and khoya (condensed sweetened milk). These ingredients are a part of several recipes in various Indian cuisines. However, cheese is not an ingredient in any Indian dish and the only cuisine that Indians relate to it is Italian. This mindset of the Indian consumer has therefore restricted cheese and its different variants to the restaurant’s kitchen.

A recent survey by FoodProcessing360 showed majority of the respondents (67%) unaware of all the variants of cheese. A mere 33% of the voters knew the various variants of the milk product. Mumbai based entrepreneur Shilpa Chatterjee says, “I once attended a wine and cheese festival and realised that majority of the cheese variants are not sold in retail outlets in India.”
The manufacturing of cheese involves various stages of processing that lends flavour and texture to the final product. With each country having their traditional methods of preparing cheese, the variants of cheese are almost countless. Wikipedia helps us list some of the popular variants from the US and Italy:
  • Brick cheese
  • Colby cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Farmer cheese
  • Monterey Jack
  • Muenster cheese
  • Pepper jack cheese
  • Ricotta
  • Ragusano
  • Gorgonzola
  • Bitto
  • Asiago
While these are common ingredients in international recipes, most Indians will find these names unfamiliar. From the retail and manufacturing perspective, this makes the Indian market somewhat open to the new variants.
According to food expert and homemaker Meena Ganguli, “The most commonly used cheese variants in our daily like are processed cheese from brands like Amul, Britannia and Go Cheese and cottage cheese. Apart from these, rarely do Indian households use cheese in their food. Some newly emerging variants include the mozzarella and cream cheese that are extensively used in some of the common continental recipes.”
With more Indians travelling abroad than ever before and food habits of the youth transforming due to the western influence, more variants of cheese are likely to be manufactured and imported in the future.
Tias Chakraborty

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