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April 20, 2018

Cheese and Indian Food

Cheese and Indian food

 
Cheese had made its way into Indian food one could say at the deep end. Chances are you have heard that cheese has made its way into the cornerstone of a healthy Punjabi breakfast, the Paratha. One would think that of it as the unlikeliest of combinations. But doesn’t this make absolute sense, cheese and bread isn’t it? However some other combinations are much more innovative and almost whacky. For example the cheese dosa, this is quite an unlikely combination. Though a much loved one, some say it is even inherently evil in its addictive taste. Of course these are combinations which have regional appeal to particular parts of the country. The well travelled Indian may appreciate both ends of the spectrum. A paratha stuffed with cheddar cheese appreciated with a nice “aam ka achar” by Indians, is a reality. The same paratha might be enjoyed by someone from England with a splash of ketchup or marmite. This is the beauty of food, ingredients from afar making something likeable in other countries. Another delicious and completely logical combination is the cheese vada pav, the staple snack of Mumbai with a twist. The vada pav in a Western context is a little potato burger, put together with a little cheese the flavours change quite noticeably. Purists may accuse the matchmakers of such partnerships of committing Blasphemy. The question is that shouldn’t we embrace change and innovation as a part of life.
 
Take for example the cheese pakora, which can be served in an Indian cocktail party alongside the traditional chicken tikka’s and seekh kebab’s. We don’t see a whole lot of people complaining here, this may perhaps also be because of the cocktail part of it. The transition of cheese to typically Indian food, is attributed in part to innovative chefs. Also a large aspect of this is the vast array of food that we make on the sub continent. The combinations will continue from cheese filled momo’s (now an Indian street food), to Kolkatta style chicken and egg rolls with cheese. Cheese has also made a sinful relationship with Bhatura’s and Puri’s, this is a combination for the strong hearted. Its definitely not for ones with a sedentary life style. Talking about combinations, is there such a thing as a cheese samosa or a Indo-Chinese stir fried cheese-vegetable thing? I am not sure but my guess is there is so much that goes on in the millions of kitchens across the country that anything is possible. So whilst there are all kinds of unreal combinations going around one can continue trying to innovate with the uses of cheese. The possibilities are as limited or as expansive as one’s imagination.
 
We would love to hear from you, please write into us with what you have been doing with cheese in your kitchen. What your favourite cheese is and how you use it. Send us recipes, we would only put it through a cheesy little test before publishing it here with your name.
April 19, 2018

Mozzarella Fresh Vs Dry

Italy has a rich cultural past and is the birthplace of western civilisation. It has ancient cities like Rome and Turin, beautiful sports cars and cuisine which is liked across the world. The Italians got into making cheese centuries ago and are renowned for their art. Perhaps mozzarella is the most important contribution to the cheese industry by them in recent times. Having crossed the boundaries of country and continent, it is ranked as the second most popular type of cheese in the world. Mozzarella is known for its stretchy and stringiness on being melted. A pizza or a grilled cheese sandwich would probably not be the same without this cheese. Neither would some salads where slices or bits of fresh mozzarella are used.

Mozzarella cheese is found in a soft dryish form or soaked in brine. Let us try and understand the differences in these two types and where they should be used. In our stores here in India we can most easily find the type which is dry. This type of mozzarella is my preferred choice for anything where the cheese would be cooked or even heated. The reason is that this type melts with the texture that is expected out of mozzarella. However if I was making a salad or a simple tomato and cheese  sandwich then I would much rather used the one soaked in brine. The brine soaked mozzarella is usually made fresh and sold fresh. Of course there are some brands advertising them with a longer shelf life. In my opinion its not really worth it from two aspects, the first is that it has preservatives. The second would be the missing freshness that is expected and demanded from this type of cheese. So what

Making Cheese with Booij Cheese Makers in Holland

happens if we try and melt the mozzarella that comes in brine. It does melt, however be prepared to have some of that moisture to make your food slightly wet. There are some authentic Italian pizzerias which use only this type of mozzarella. However if one were to look at an American style pizza it would never be used. On the other hand if one were to try and use the dry type of mozzarella in a salad then it would have a slightly rubbery texture. Not something that one would really appreciate. So although both of them are called mozzarella the usages are actually quite different.

The most sought after mozzarella is made using whole milk from buffaloes. An easy way to identify if it is made from cow or buffalo milk is by the colour. Buffalo mozzarella has a chalk white appearance, while the one from cows milk is slightly pale. This is also true for ghee, pale white ghee comes from buffaloes milk and the much sought after cow ghee is always a light golden yellow. Whatever maybe the type of mozzarella its always good to keep some handy!