We hardly believe that cheese-making has been carried out in India for a long time. We give credit to Europeans for introducing Indians to the practice. But in India, people have been singing songs while churning the milk, and one can tell whether the milk has been churned by the beat of the song. In states such as Arunachal Pradesh, this is a common musical tradition that is carried out when they have to take out the butter for the cheese. And we’re not just talking about paneer here. There are many indigenous varieties of cheese that are unheard of in India. Here’s one that we would like to talk about —  

Churpi cheese is known as Himalayan chewing gum. Let me phrase it better — it is an alternative to chewing gum. I was amused by this piece of information, but it piqued my interest in this local variety of cheese from India. In places such as Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Darjeeling and Tibet, churpi cheese is a source of sustenance that is made out of yak milk. It is known as durkha in those places, especially Nepal. But here’s more! The locals prefer to chew churpi cheese instead of betel nut, the hard variety of churpi is even fed to dogs, and the soft churpi is prepared out of cow’s milk. While the hard cheese can be stored for years, the soft cheese has a two-week shelf life.

   

Further on, curries and pickles are made with soft churpi, and eaten with rice on a regular basis. Then, of course, soft churpi cheese is used in momos which a lot of tourists love to have whenever they go to the mountains. It is also used in many other Nepalese dishes such as noodles and soups. On the other hand, hard churpi is used like parmesan, just for flavouring purposes.  

So when are you trying this unique Indian cheese?