When I came across Himalayan Products at an event last month, I immediately made it a point to share their story on the blog so I could provide you with some relevant information regarding cheese. Do you know that processed cheese is not the same as a real cheese? Actually, it cannot be even termed as real food but rather a means to mass-produce low-quality products at cheap rates. With primary ingredients being vegetable oils, sugar, preservatives, colours, excess sodium etc., it can not be legally labelled as cheese in most countries but is instead tagged as “cheese food”, “cheese spread” or “cheese product”. Real cheese, on the other hand, contains calcium, zinc, Vitamin D and Vitamin K2 and is also a source of probiotic which is beneficial for the gut. In simple terms, Artisanal cheese is MADE by adding rennet to milk and ageing it over a period of time while Processed cheese is MANUFACTURED using dairy and non-dairy by-products like oils and sugars. Another very interesting fact is that not every kind of cheese is vegetarian. Sometimes the rennet which is an enzyme used to coagulate and isolate the solids in milk is extracted from an animal. Fortunately, in India, this practice is not allowed and the cheese is coagulated with either a synthetic, or microbial rennet, derived from mould or yeast, or with a vegetable- or plant-derived rennet. This gives us one more reason to have cheese that is homegrown. Other myths surrounding cheese includes the role of cheese as a culprit of high cholesterol and increasing waistlines. In reality, moderate portions of good quality cheese is not only beneficial for health and but may even prevent one from diabetes.
Let me now introduce you to Himalayan Products, a sustainable community-minded dairy business based in the pristine hills of Pahalgam in the ever so picturesque Kashmir. In a span of 10 years, Chris Zandee from Holland has been able to develop a means of fair trade that has proven to be economically empowering for the local Kashmiri, Gujjar and Bakarwal herders of Kashmir. Looking for a career and searching for the meaning of life, Chris started to ask life questions in a world that has become more and more a difficult place to live in. In his heart, he wanted to pursue a career that could add some meaning to his life. Eventually, he arrived at a principle of life in which he could build up or have a positive impact on society while conducting sustainable business. With this in mind, Chris travelled to Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia to explore what he could undertake and make a difference. Initially, he was invited for a project in Kashmir with the government but as it didn’t move forward he left the project. In his words, Chris quotes, ” I wanted to start a business that impacted the grassroots of society. We started with doing something with farmers and their produce. As milk is a daily affair for farmers, cheese making seemed to be a great venture. As I come from a farming community myself, this group is close to my heart and is very often either suffering economically or is at the bottom of economical development.”
But what could be the reason behind choosing Kashmir whereas Chris could have very well exported it from Holland? The reason is the quality of homegrown and homemade products. According to Chris, the cheese that is imported to India from the west is often not of high quality. “For the price one pays for the imported cheese in India, one can easily get a great farm cheese in the West. When customers buy from Himalayan Products, they purchase a high-quality cheese with the character of fair trade, eco and social development. The customers not only purchase a good quality cheese for a fair price but also buy an ethically conscious product that impacts the grassroots of our own society. That is buying two for the price of one. Business is so much more than only money.” In Chris’s dictionary, business is about trust and it must be socially sustainable for all parties involved, including the environment. This impact he couldn’t have had in Holland but only in Kashmir. Himalayan Products envisions the social and economical development of the farmers ultimately bringing sustainability in business as well as best practices in an environmentally conscious way.
How is Himalayan Products Cheese special?
Cheese at Himalayan Products is made from organic milk derived from grass-fed cows and buffaloes reared and raised in the lush green meadows of Pahalgam. The ingredients include only natural milk and salt as a preservative and they do not de-cream as it adds richness in flavour. Upholding a good balance of quality first and economical suitability, the artisan cheese is handcrafted and personally handled by their staff. The enzymes that are in our digestive system can be found in the cheese and thereby it supports our systems obstructing unhealthy weight gain. Naturally, it is a lot richer in flavour compared to processed cheese. That is just in regards to taste and ingredients, Himalayan Products also empowers the Kashmiri, Gujjar and Bakarwal community by procuring milk from them helping them increase the production of milk in the biting cold winters while maintaining herd hygiene.
Types of Cheese available –
Three types of cheese are available at Himalayan Cheese – Gouda (Young, Mild and Mature), Cheddar (young and mild) and Kalahari (also known as milk chapati). Grated cheese available is all vintage – vintage Gouda, flavoured vintage Gouda and vintage Cheddar.
Flavours, Sizes and Prices –
The different flavours available are Walnut, Chilli, Pepper, Garlic and Basil, Garlic Nettle, Frisian Clove, Mustard, Fenugreek and Cumin.
The price range of Gouda and Cheddar ranges between Rs 269 to Rs 385 for 200 gms.
Storage and Expiry
Store at 3 to 6 degrees at a cool and dry place. As the ingredients consist of milk and salt the shelf life is of 9 months.
Ingredients used are milk and salt and real natural flavours for the flavoured Gouda cheese.
The rennet used is a vegetable enzyme.
Nutritional facts in a nutshell.
Per 100 gms (average)
//Energy : 350 to 400 kcal //Fat : 27 gms //Cholesterol : 110 mg // Protein : 25 gms //Carbohydrates : 1.5 gms // Sodium: 820 mg // Calcium : 710 mg
Taste and Texture
The young cheese is soft and melts easily while retaining flavour and texture. The matured cheese is harder (due to dehydration) and depending on the kind of cheese, the flavour becomes sharper or woody. A vintage cheese is a full-body cheese that stands strong in flavour in any kind of recipe or with any kind of snack or drink. Upon heating, the cheese melts more into a liquid form which is itself a sign of whole milk. On the whole, the cheese is chewy but not sticky. My favourite is Cheddar and the Garlic and Basil flavoured Gouda. If you prefer plain cheese or something mild, you should opt for young gouda and if you desire something that has more of a herbaceous flavour then pick Cumin, Fenugreek or Basil. For a slightly more spicy taste, choose the Chilli, Pepper or Mustard and select Walnut for a more nutty taste. The new Garlic Nettle flavour is also a must-try.
How to order?
You can place an order by
Visiting – himalayancheese.com
Calling on Mobile: +91 94 190 454 20 | Office: +91 194 246 1593
or by Emailing at – info @himalayancheese.com
I hope I could help you with a product that is not only a healthy option but is also economically empowering farmers and agricultural herdsman somewhere who are otherwise depended on mere loans to get by.