Indian Himalayas: Cheese

Maeshraej Cheese or Kalari is a cheese from the Indian Himalayans. In this video by Anita Tikoo, a longtime friend and contributor to Cultures.Group, she explains the wonders of this cheese. Sometimes they are sun dried and a very tasty fungus grows on them. Most people have no idea of the amazing cheeses made throughout India for thousands of years.

Anita is a practicing Landscape Architect who enjoys cooking with seasonal ingredients. In her terrace garden she grows some of the foods that fuel the ferments in her kitchen. She conducts online Food Workshops where like-minded people join her in the kitchen on weekends to cook with locally sourced seasonal ingredients, and has recently started pop-ups with some great Indian Chefs, Bakers and Brewers.

Anita has been baking sourdough breads at home for years using her lively wild yeast starter and local flours. Anita blogs about food matters at A Mad Tea Party Her Instagram handle is a_madteaparty

According to Kashmiri Life: “Kalari cheese is one of the favorite snacks of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Kalari is a dense cheese and is also called the mozzarella of Kashmir. Like mozzarella, it melts on heating and hardens on cooling. The flavor and taste of Kashmiri cheese are just fingers licking well.

Folklore says Kalari is an authentic traditional cheese of the Dogra dynasty of Jammu and Kashmir. Kalari is indigenous to Ramnagar, a town in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir. As shepherds the Gujjar and Bakarwals are highly dependable on Milk, it is popular among the Gujjar and Bakarwal community of Jammu and Kashmir. This cheese is also called “milk chapatti” or “maish krej” in Kashmiri.

Traditionally Kalari cheese is made from Cow’s or Buffalo’s milk but nowadays people also made Kalaris from Goat’s milk, which is whitish in color. Preparation of Kalaris takes hard labor and the nomadic women of Jammu and Kashmir have proved to be the best in this Task.

Preparation of kalari cheese of Jammu and Kashmir is women power: 

Yes, the women play the most important role in Kalari preparation. It is more like a skill that has been passed on among every Gujjar and Bakarwal women folk in Jammu and Kashmir from generation to generation.

December 19 - Fruit From the Sands 11AM to 1 PM EDT 

With Dr. Robert Spengler III, author of Fruit from the Sands . Co-hosted by Zizinia de Les Flors’ Caspar Hall. The last Zoom event is free, as they all have been over the last 11 years.

Available from Independent Bookstores and other online sources.

Anita Tikoo’s Kalari Cheese Sandwich

Author: culturesgroup

Ken Fornataro has acquired extensive knowledge of the science and techniques that have been all but forgotten with the increasing industrialization of food. Still in his teens, he was named Executive Chef at the Hermitage restaurant in Boston.   From there he worked at prestigious and often private establishments around the world where he practiced his craft. He ran the kitchen and catering services for Troutbeck in upstate New York, using locally grown and sustainably sourced ingredients in the 1980s. At Bloomingdales flagship store in Manhattan he ran the Fresh Foods department kitchens that included a line of his own prepared, preserved and fermented foods, as well as daily preparations directed by Michel Guérard, Petrossian, and Marcella Hazen. He has worked with Julia Child, Madeleine Kamman, Aveline and Michio Kushi, Paula Wolfert, Leah Chase, Anthony Bourdain and many chefs from around the world that taught him traditional Japanese, French, Jewish, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Nordic, Russian, Indian, and whole food cooking, preservation and fermentation techniques.

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