9 Most Popular Cheeses Originated in India

9 Most Popular Cheeses Originated in India - Cheese Origin

India is a land of diversity, and its culinary arena is no different. The country’s rich cultural heritage has given birth to a wide variety of dishes and ingredients that are now popular worldwide. One such ingredient is cheese, which has been used in Indian cuisines for centuries. In recent years, India has also started producing its unique cheeses that have gained immense popularity among cheese enthusiasts worldwide.

From the creamy and nutty Gouda to the spicy and tangy Paneer, India has a vast repertoire of cheeses to offer. In this article, we’ll explore the nine most popular cheeses originated in India, their unique characteristics, and how they are used in Indian cuisine.

Cheese NameDescriptionCountry of OriginTasting Profile
PaneerPaneer is a kind of fresh cheese made by curdling milk using an acidic food ingredient like lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt (curd) or citric acid. It is popular in Indian cuisine and is mild, milky, and slightly sweet in flavor.IndiaMild, milky, slightly sweet
CheddarCheddar cheese is a hard, sharp-tasting cheese that originated in the English village of Cheddar, Somerset. It is widely consumed in India and has a tangy, nutty, and rich taste.EnglandTangy, nutty, rich
KalariKalari cheese is a traditional cheese made from cow’s milk in India. It is often used in making kebabs and has a mild, slightly salty taste.IndiaMild, slightly salty
ChhurpiChhurpi is a traditional cheese made from yak’s milk in the Himalayan region of Nepal, Bhutan, and India. It is often used to make hard, dried cheese snacks and has a strong, smoky flavor.Nepal, Bhutan, IndiaStrong, smoky
KalimpongKalimpong cheese is a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk in the Kalimpong district of West Bengal, India. It has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and is often used in Indian dishes such as sandwiches and pizzas.IndiaNutty, slightly sweet
BandelBandel cheese is a soft, crumbly cheese with a sour taste that is made from cow’s milk in West Bengal, India. It is often used in Indian desserts and is similar in texture to cottage cheese.IndiaSoft, crumbly, sour
KhoaKhoa is a type of cheese made by boiling and reducing milk until it becomes a thick, sticky mass. It is often used in Indian sweets such as barfi and gulab jamun and has a sweet, nutty taste.IndiaSweet, nutty
GoudaGouda cheese is a semi-hard cheese that originated in the Netherlands and is widely consumed in India. It is creamy, nutty, and slightly sweet in flavor and can range in texture from soft to hard.NetherlandsCreamy, nutty, slightly sweet
MozzarellaMozzarella cheese is a soft, mild-tasting cheese that originated in Italy and is commonly used in Indian dishes such as pizzas and sandwiches. It has a milky, slightly tangy taste and a stretchy, stringy texture.ItalyMilky, slightly tangy, stretchy

1. Paneer

  • Milk Type: Cow’s milk
  • Taste: Mild, milky, slightly sweet
  • Texture: Soft, crumbly
  • Food Pairing: Paneer tikka, palak paneer, matar paneer, paneer butter masala
  • Wine Pairing: White wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay)
  • Read in-depth guide

Paneer is a fresh cheese made from cow’s milk, and is a popular ingredient in many Indian dishes. It has a mild, slightly sweet taste and a soft, crumbly texture that makes it perfect for cooking.

Paneer’s popularity in India is due to its versatility in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisines, as well as its high protein content and easy availability. From paneer tikka to palak paneer, this cheese is a staple in many Indian households and continues to be enjoyed by people all over the world.

2. Cheddar

  • Milk Type: Cow’s milk
  • Taste: Tangy, nutty, rich
  • Texture: Hard, crumbly
  • Food Pairing: Grilled cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese, burgers, salads
  • Wine Pairing: Red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot)
  • Read in-depth guide

Cheddar cheese, with its tangy and nutty flavor profile and crumbly texture, is a widely popular cheese variety in India. Introduced during British colonial rule, cheddar has since become a favorite of the Indian palate and is used in various dishes like mac and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, and salads.

Its popularity in India is due to its versatility in different types of cuisine, and also because of its relatively long shelf life compared to other cheese varieties. Cheddar cheese is now produced domestically in India and has become an essential ingredient in many of the country’s favorite comfort foods.

3. Kalari

Kalari cheese
  • Milk Type: Cow’s milk
  • Taste: Mild, slightly salty
  • Texture: Soft, chewy
  • Food Pairing: Kebabs, sandwiches, pizzas
  • Wine Pairing: White wine (such as Riesling or Gewurztraminer)

Kalari cheese is a traditional ripened cheese made from cow or goat milk and is indigenous to Ramnagar in the Udhampur district of the Jammu division, within the Indian Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It has a mild flavor and a dense, stretchy texture, resembling that of mozzarella.

The cheese is popular among the Gujjar community and is widely consumed as a fried snack in the valley. Owing to its unique mellow flavor and texture, Kalari cheese is rapidly gaining popularity among food enthusiasts and tastemakers all over India. Its increasing popularity has resulted in the cheese being sold in stores across India, making Kalari a well-known and beloved cheese among cheese connoisseurs.

4. Chhurpi

  • Milk Type: Yak’s milk
  • Taste: Strong, smoky
  • Texture: Hard, dried
  • Food Pairing: Cheese snacks, soups, stews
  • Wine Pairing: Red wine (such as Syrah or Malbec)

Chhurpi cheese is a hard, yellow cheese made from yak milk and is popular in the Himalayan region, particularly in Sikkim and Darjeeling. It is a beloved snack for its unique texture and taste and can be chewed for long periods of time.

Known to be one of the world’s hardest cheeses, Chhurpi has gained popularity in recent years due to its high nutritional value and distinct flavor. While it may not be as widely consumed as other cheese varieties in India, its unique qualities make it a must-try for adventurous food enthusiasts.

5. Kalimpong

  • Milk Type: Cow’s milk
  • Taste: Nutty, slightly sweet
  • Texture: Semi-hard, crumbly
  • Food Pairing: Sandwiches, pizzas, cheese plates
  • Wine Pairing: White wine (such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay)

Kalimpong cheese is a semi-hard cheese produced in limited quantities by the Dairy Makarios Bous in Kalimpong, West Bengal. This cheese has gained popularity for its unique taste and versatility in Indian cuisine. With a mild flavor and a texture similar to mozzarella, Kalimpong cheese is used in sandwiches, salads, and as a topping for pizzas.

The cheese is made using traditional methods and is produced in small quantities by local dairy farmers. It has become an essential ingredient in many popular dishes and has gained recognition as a gourmet cheese in India.

6. Bandel

Bandel cheese
  • Milk Type: Cow’s milk
  • Taste: Salty, sour, sharp
  • Texture: Soft, crumbly
  • Food Pairing: Bengali sweets, sandwiches, salads
  • Wine Pairing: Red wine (such as Zinfandel or Shiraz)

Bandel cheese, named after the town of Bandel founded by the Portuguese, is a popular East Indian cheese that has gained recognition among cheese connoisseurs worldwide. Made from cow’s milk and chhana, which is also used in Bengali sweets like rosogolla and sandesh, Bandel cheese has a crumbly texture and a unique flavor that has made it a must-try for food enthusiasts in India.

Despite being around for 400 years, the cheese was not well-known outside of West Bengal until recently. However, with its increasing availability in top-tier grocery chains in Kolkata, Bandel cheese is becoming more accessible to cheese lovers across India.

7. Khoa

Khoa cheese
  • Milk Type: Cow’s or buffalo milk
  • Taste: Sweet, nutty, caramelized
  • Texture: Soft, chewy
  • Food Pairing: Indian desserts (such as gulab jamun or peda), sweet dishes (such as kheer or halwa)
  • Wine Pairing: Dessert wine

Khoa, also known as khoya or mawa, is a dairy food widely used in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent. It is made by reducing milk to a semi-solid consistency, resulting in a rich and creamy product that can be used in various desserts and sweets. Khoa has been a staple ingredient in Indian cuisine for centuries, and it remains popular due to its versatility and unique taste.

It is estimated that India produces 1.5 million tonnes of khoa annually, making it a significant contributor to the country’s food industry. Despite the challenges faced by traditional artisans in producing khoa, the demand for this delicious dairy product shows no signs of slowing down.

8. Gouda

  • Milk Type: Cow’s milk
  • Taste: Buttery, nutty, caramelized
  • Texture: Semi-hard, smooth
  • Food Pairing: Sandwiches, burgers, cheese plates, soups
  • Wine Pairing: Red wine (such as Pinot Noir or Merlot) or white wine (such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc)
  • Read in-depth guide

Gouda cheese is a semi-hard cheese that has gained popularity in India as one of the top 10 types of cheese getting popular. It is made from cow’s milk, and it has a smooth and creamy texture with a slightly nutty taste. Gouda cheese is often compared to cheddar and can be used in various dishes such as sandwiches, burgers, and pizzas.

With the increasing demand for different cheese varieties in India, Gouda cheese has become a popular choice due to its versatility, unique flavor, and texture. The Indian cheese market is expected to grow at 20% annually, and Gouda cheese is one of the many cheeses that entrepreneurs can explore to tap into this market.

9. Mozzarella

Buffalo mozzarella
  • Milk Type: Buffalo or cow’s milk
  • Taste: Mild, slightly tangy
  • Texture: Soft, stretchy
  • Food Pairing: Pizza, pasta, caprese salad, sandwiches
  • Wine Pairing: White wine (such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay)
  • Read in-depth guide

Mozzarella cheese is a semi-soft, mild, and creamy cheese that has gained immense popularity in India, primarily due to its use in pizzas. Although not an indigenous product of India, the mozzarella cheese market in India is projected to witness significant growth in the coming years, and it is now one of the most consumed cheeses in India.

With the growing demand for Western food in India, pizza chains and Italian restaurants have become more popular, leading to increased consumption of mozzarella cheese. The cheese market in India is growing at a healthy CAGR, and mozzarella cheese is expected to lead the product diversity in dairy.

Final Thoughts

The Indian cheese industry has come a long way and has developed unique cheese varieties that are loved by people all over the world. From the mild and creamy Paneer to the sharp and spicy Chhurpi, India’s cheeses are a testament to the country’s diverse culture and culinary traditions.

The popularity of these cheeses is not limited to India alone, but they have also found their way into many international dishes, from gourmet meals to fast food chains. As the demand for high-quality and unique cheeses continues to grow in India and worldwide, we can expect that the Indian cheese industry will continue to innovate and produce new and exciting varieties that will delight cheese enthusiasts for years to come.

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