Regular ol’ store-bought ,processed cheese is a thing of the past, we realised as we slowly uncovered the wonders of crumb-fried camembert, salty ricotta, chèvre infused with herbs and many more hand-crafted, artisanal cheeses. These delectable specialties of cheeses are still a niche, reserved for a refined palette, and while they’ve been extremely expensive to procure in India in the past, that’s not the case anymore.
We found 15 homegrown cheese-makers, right here in India, who have (god bless their cheesy souls) blended fine ingredients and fresh milk to craft gorgeous products that are not only mouth-watering, but also more accessible. Scroll on for a glimpse into 15 of India’s artisanal cheese-makers worlds, and try not too drool too much on your way. If any of these happen to be on your way to somewhere else, we’d highly recommend stopping by and grabbing a few hunks of whatever they have for the road.
I. ABC Farms
“When people started stealing the personnel that I had trained, and put them into making commercial, processed cheeses, frankly it pissed me off a little. I realized that the rat race and the volume game is just not my cup of tea. So I thought of getting into something that others wouldn’t be able imitate, and I started boutique cheeses.” – Sohrab Chinoy.
Started by Aga, Bhathena and Chinoy in 1976 with 14 cows, this 27-acre farm has grown tremendously since, and is run by Sohrab Chinoy and his family as it stands today. With top-quality being its one and only objective, ABC Farms offers a wide range of over 70 different varieties of cheese, a selection that no other artisanal cheese-maker in India can boast of. Health meets unparalleled flavour in each organic slice of boutique cheese, produced from fresh milk using fine farm ingredients. With local chefs swearing by their delicious cheeses, you know quality is what you’re getting. Apart from cheese production, ABC Farms is a large organic cultivation endeavour that grows interesting crops such as black rice and aztec corn.
Where To Get It: Step into ABC Farm outlets in Pune or Goa to treat yourself to their wide selection. Dorabjee’s in Pune hosts their boutique cheeses as well.
HG Recommends: Their salty ricotta spread across fresh, flaky toast makes for a scrumptious snack.
II. Acres Wild
“Our idea of making cheese is to use local produce, we aren’t trying to be gourmet, we don’t pretend like we’re in Switzerland. It’s a sustainable farm, and our cheese is a product of it.” - Mansoor, Acres Wild Farm.
This 22 acre cheese-making farm in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu is a self-sustaining farm that organically grows all its own ingredients, fresh and healthy. Acres Wild’s aim is to shape an eco-friendly, holistic lifestyle while crafting a selection of delectable natural-rind cheeses. Each independent flavour is a beautiful creation of fresh ingredients moulded over the perfect period of aging, with glorious textures and shapes. Acres Wild has 10 different types of hard cheese, and for someone yearning for a softer variety, they craft a range of lactic cheeses as well. Feta, ricotta, and mozarella are only a few of their wide selection.
Where To Get It: In Coonoor, their delicious cheese are available at Baker’s Junction, Tulsi Mall as well as their very own farm. If you find yourself craving these delicious cheeses in Ooty, head down to the quaint Green Shop, or the more commercial Shivani Stores.
HG Recommends: You can’t go wrong with their Halloumi, with its layered texture and distinctive salty texture.
III. Casa Del Cheese
“I was always a complete foodie, and all the cookbooks I used to read had these beautiful cheeses that were so expensive and not easily available in India, and that inspired me to try and create these cheeses here itself. I went around hunting for ingredients, sourced some of them from abroad, experimented with recipes, and finally started Casa Del Cheese.” – Dhvani Desai.
Started by former business-journalist Dhvani Desai, this Mumbai-based cheese-making endeavour aims to make delicious, gourmet flavours accessible in India. Influenced by European cheese flavours, Casa Del Cheese uses the finest ingredients to craft exotic cheeses under the best hygiene conditions. All their cheeses are free of preservatives, chemicals or emulsifiers, and each different texture will tickle your taste buds. And what sets Dhvani’s cheeses apart is that they’re all completely organic, and as she tells us, no one makes the Greek style feta like she does. Organic cheeses, greek style feta, gouda mustard, snowcake creamy and tangy? We were sold at home delivery.
Where To Get It: From Monday to Friday, you can have these delicious cheeses hand-delivered to your home anywhere in Bombay.
HG Recommends: You won’t want to miss Casa Del Cheese’s personal invention — The Snowcake, a deliciously creamy fresh cheese, quite similar to chèvre. If that isn’t your cup of cheese, give their Greek feta is as authentic as it gets.
IV. Cinnabar Farms
“Our farm is where you feel like a friend, not just a guest.” – Cinnarbar Farms.
Apart from being a gorgeous bed and breakfast, Cinnabar Farms produces freshly crafted artisanal cheeses inspired by European styles and flavours. Located in Kodaikanal, this venture was started by K. Balakrishnan and his wife, who learnt the art of cheese-making from experts on the west coast of the US, and they specialize in the hard Italian style cheese known as Cinnamano. And if these gorgeous cheeses aren’t inviting enough, their beautiful lush green farm offers a bed and breakfast, where you can learn the arts of cheese and bread making.
Where To Get It: Step out of your concrete jungle and experience the fresh air at this beautiful Kodaikanal farm, and pick up some cheese while you’re at it.
HG Recommends: The creamy blue cheese Cinnableu will leave you wanting more, and more, and, please, just a little more.
“I started this with the intention of making good-quality artisanal cheeses for me and my family, and now I do it full time. In the future, I hope to make an artisanal cheese that’s truly-blood Indian. We’re one of the biggest producers of milk in the world, we should have our own cheese! Besides paneer, of course.” – Mausam Jotwani.
Locally sourced ingredients of the highest quality are blended to form delectable, artisanal cheeses inspired by European flavours, created by Eleftheria Cheese. As is with most eatables, the primary ingredient used by these creators makes all the difference, as they source milk from the finest organic farms. Started by Mausam Jotwani, this endeavour crafted small batches of niche flavours, and this dream was inspired when Mausam travelled to Germany and experienced the world of cheeses beyond the regular processed Amul variety. As Mausam tells us, what sets Eleftheria apart is that they craft only fresh, cow’s milk cheeses, and they are inspired by French, Greek and Italian styles.
Where To Get It: If you’re craving a light feta or rich mozarella, Eleftheria will hand-deliver it to your doorstep from Monday to Friday, and they’ll be available on online gourmet stores and other retail outlets soon.
HG Recommends: The creamy cheese spread, Fromage blanc, is so fresh and smooth, it feels like butter on your tongue.
VI. Exito Gourmet
“We have 26 different types of cheeses that we craft in India, and we even import top-quality artisanal cheeses from Netherlands and Germany, so we do a little bit of everything.” - John Kennedy.
Exito Gourmet, established in 2008 by Giuseppe Mozzillo, Jorge Tapia Chavero, and Puneet Gupta aims to recreate European cheeses with fine, fresh Indian milk. A wide range of different cheeses like cheddar, emmental, gouda and so forth are the beautifully delectable creations of this gourmet producer, crafted using cheese-making expertise and knowledge.
Where To Get It: Step into any retail store across India’s urban cities, from Nature’s Basket to mall supermarkets, and pick up one of Exito’s beautiful creations.
HG Recommends: The soft, creamy mascarpone will leave you praising the Cheese Gods.
“It takes a special kind of person to make cheese; for cheese is borne of passion, craftsmanship and immense hard work.” – Flanders Dairy Products.
Based out of Delhi, Flanders is a high-quality cheese-making venture influenced by the art of European cheese crafting. With a dairy farm yielding fresh cow’s milk, age old tried-and-tested methods are enforced to create specific flavours and consistency in each delectable product. Started by Sunil Bhu, this producer of natural, artisanal cheeses aims to bring European flavours to India.
Where To Get It: Their exclusive store on Delhi’s Lodhi Road, The Cheese Ball, is your one-stop shop for these creative cheeses.
HG Recommends: The classic, rich Gouda cheese of Flanders comes infused with various flavours, like oregano, cumin, and black pepper. We strongly recommend the red chilli too, it’s a treat to your senses.
VIII. Happy Cow Cheese
“It started more than 10 years ago in Goa. I wanted to bring European cheese styles to India, so I made my own cheese, and it worked out quite well. And then I decided to open up a company, and it happened! The cheese-making!” – Barbara Schwarzfischer.
Based out of Goa, this artisanal cheese producer owned by Barbara started out by crafting only fresh Swiss cheese, and soon expanded their repertoire to include mature cheeses as well, since Goa’s balmy coastal climate is conducive to its production. What was initially a holiday to Goa about 10 years ago turned into a permanent stay, and a successful business venture. When she first tried Indian cheeses, she tells us, she realized that Indian cheese-makers lack experience, and they aren’t nearly as good as the delicious European cheese styles. And, well, she wanted to change that. She creates eight different types of delectable cheeses now, such as Camembert, Mutschli, Blue Shimmel and Feta, topped with flavours of walnuts, olives, green pepper and various other herbs.
Where To Get It: Magsons in Panaji, Lawande and Newton’s in Candolim, Ajay in Mapusa, Oxford and Orchard in Anjuna–these are a few of the supermarkets in North Goa that host the delectable collection of Happy Cow Cheese.
HG Recommends: Indulge in the gorgeous flavours of the creamy Tomme cheese infused with fresh, red chilli spices.
IX. Himalayan Cheese
“All the goodness of the Himalayas is found right in the taste of our cheese.” - Himalayan Cheese
Based in Kashmir, this enterprise was founded by Dutch entrepreneur Chris Zandee. With fresh mountain milk, lip-smacking delights of Gouda, Cheddar, Mozzarella, Kalari and the likes are the top-notch creations of Himalayan Artisan Cheese. Light flavours caress your taste buds with each bite of their locally-crafted cheeses, made from freshly grown ingredients and infused with flavours like chilli, cumin, fenugreek, black pepper, walnut, mustard, basil garlic and so forth.
Where To Get It: Fresh, delicious products from Kashmir are home-delivered to most pin-codes across India by Himalayan Cheese.
HG Recommends: Try the Kalari (the Gujjar name for their local cheese), also known as ‘milk chappati’, best enjoyed by dipping it in a cilantro paste or a garlic chutney.
“Quality milk to produce quality cheese, rather than quantity. That’s what we’re going for.” – Hari Shankar.
Based out of Batlagundu, Tamil Nadu, this cheese producer focuses on crafting cheese that is nutritionally beneficial, as well as unbelievable flavoursome. Infused with chilly, basil, pepper, garlic and the likes, each creation is bathed in a variety of fresh ingredients. The health benefits are kept alive using special production techniques, and avoiding preservatives altogether. Milk produced on their own farms go into making these boutique style French-inspired cheeses, a tradition which started 47 years ago.
Where To Get It: Visit Big Basket online stores to buy any of Kodai Dairy Product’s cheeses.
HG Recommends: The salty blue cheese has a delicate texture and an unbelievably good flavour. Designed to tickle your taste buds, best enjoyed with crispy crackers.
XI. La Ferme
“Our approach keeps the authentic texture and taste of traditional farm cheese and guarantees the natural balance of vitamins, proteins and fat which gives cheese its unique characteristics.” – La Ferme.
Combining Indian, Dutch and French techniques, this Pondicherry-based artisanal cheese crafter produces almost 10 different varieties of gourmet cheeses. Giving utmost importance to high hygiene standards, each product is free of preservatives, artificial flavouring or colours. And La Ferme even offers site visits, so you can watch these delicious cheeses being crafted right before your eyes. So take them up on that offer, and taste the farm cheese, lofabu, jeera cheese, swissly, cheddar, blue d’auroville,gruyere, gorgonzola and many, many more varieties.
Where To Get It: Visit Auroville and Pondicherry’s local supermarkets to pick from the wide selection of La Ferme cheeses.
HG Recommends: The wildly flavoursome grated parmesan is delicious sprinkled over a fresh salad.
XII. Mango Hill Cheese
“Local, natural, traditional and hand-made. We are French cheese-makers making cheese in India using Indian products and ingredients.” - Max.
Nestled in the countryside between Auroville and Pondicherry, Mango Hill Cheese is owned by a French family that aims to bring the charm of French culture’s bread, wine, and cheese to India. What started three years ago as production for self-consumption, quickly turned into a successful family-run venture. With fresh milk from local farmers and fine farm-grown ingredients, they produce beautifully rich cheeses. Their wide selection includes soft Borsalino, creamy blue cheese, sweet Colby, and so forth.
Where To Get It: Gourmet food stores across urban cities in India hold Mango Hill Cheese’s French-inspired products.
HG Recommends: The Cumin Gouda, speckled with crunchy, aromatic seeds, gives you the perfect soft, pungent flavour that perfectly offsets the texture of the cheese.
XIII. The Cheese Collective
“I was studying in New York doing my masters, and I used to frequent Murry’s cheese and I volunteered there too. When I went for a cheese boot-camp, I realized that this is what makes me the happiest. Everyone else was cheesed-out after trying 60 different varieties in just three days, but I could keep going! And I knew that this was what I wanted to do.” – Mansi.
From fresh homemade chèvre and labneh to camembert and aged gruyere, The Cheese Collective started by Mansi Jasani in 2013, hosts a wide range of hand-crafted delectable flavoured cheese fit for every occasion from an elaborate party, to a corporate event, or even for a quaint dinner for two. With various ingredients coming together to complement gorgeous flavours, each creation is a unique culinary experience in every gooey, bloomy, smooth or blue-veined bite. And, apart from producing their own cheese as well as hosting cheeses produced by other makers, The Cheese Collective (TCC) also does cheese education and workshops. So, in a nutshell, they are all things cheese.
Where To Get It: Place an order with TCC, and pick up your scrumptious cheese from Breach Candy in Mumbai. And, by the end of the year, you’ll be able to visit them at their cheese room in Lonavala.
HG Recommends: Treat yourself to the fresh chèvre infused with herbs, best eaten spread across a crispy, equally fresh baguette.
“Our idea is pure food, our cheeses are preservative-free, and we use only natural ingredients. French style soft cheeses are our specialty. In the future, hopefully we’ll grow to supplying pan-India, in different institutions, hotels, restaurants, and even increase our variety.” - Prateeksh Mehra.
Gooey and deliciously flavoured exotic artisanal cheeses with an intoxicating aroma wafting from a basement in Dahisar might sound bizarre, but The Spotted Cow Fromagerie makes it happen. While most boys with basements in Mumbai flood the space with drum kits and amplifiers, brothers Prateeksh and Agnay Mehra break away from the basement-band stereotype, and have cultivated a more niche hobby instead. They started out brewing delicious hand-crafted beers, and more recently have moved into the delicious space of exotic cheese-making. Imagine a temperature-controlled basement in the city’s suburbs plastered with printed notes on various artisanal cheeses, crowded with large vats of milk and even larger refrigerators–that’s the dream being lived by the Mehra duo.
Where To Get It: The online food gourmet store Foodesto, as well as Food Hall in Palladium carries their incredible soft cheeses. And if you live in Bombay, you can even have their selection home-delivered.
HG Recommends: The crumb-fried Camembert is perfect alongside a cold pint, while the delicate Brie with cherries and walnuts is a monsoon must-have.
“It started in 2012, and initially it was just experimenting with baking. Then we just started a Facebook page, it grew through word-of-mouth, and, well, now it’s a full-fledged business.” - Shruti.
We’ve appreciated a whole list of 14 artisanal cheese-makers with their beautifully crafted selections, and now it’s time to tip our hats to a company that has managed to take cheese innovation to a whole new level. While regular ol’ sweet cheesecakes are abundant in Bombay, the Cheesecake Republic also bakes cheesecakes — but, with a twist. From the salty-yet-spicy kick of the Mustard and Cheddar, to the mouth-watering Basil Pesto and Parmesan, this home-bakery’s savoury cheesecakes infuse the delicious flavours of a variety of rich cheeses with various ingredients to produce unique goodies. For hard-core cheese lovers, they even have a Four Formaggi cheesecake. Click your heels, say cheese four times, and you’re in bakery heaven.
Where To Get It: Stop by their home-bakery in Goregaon East, or place an order on their Facebook page to get home-delivered savoury cheesecakes all across Bombay.
HG Recommends: Call out the culinary experimenter in you, and treat yourself to the Wasabi Cheesecake.
Words: Rhea Almeida