The world of Indian artisanal cheeses

Unveiling India’s rich cheese-making heritage and the diverse varieties of cheeses found across the country

25 May 2023

Cheese is one of the most versatile and delightful ingredients with the power to enhance the taste of any dish. But when most people hear the word ‘cheese’, they tend to think of European varieties like Mozzarella, Cheddar, Gouda, and Parmesan. If you were ever under the impression that these were your only options, read on! Because India boasts a rich heritage of unique and flavourful cheeses just waiting to be discovered. And no, we’re not just talking about paneer! Let us explore some of the lesser-known varieties of indigenous cheeses from this subcontinent.


Often referred to as the ‘mozzarella of Kashmir’, Kalari is a traditional cheese crafted from raw full-fat cow or goat milk. Popular for its gentle, slightly sour taste and dense, stretchy texture, Kalari is a street delicacy in Jammu & Kashmir, where it is called kalari kulcha. The cheese is flattened and cooked in its own fat until it forms a golden crust, while retaining its gooey interior. It can be relished on its own with a dash of salt and chilli powder, or as a sandwich.


Chhurpi is a unique variety of cheese originating from Nepal and Bhutan, and has now become a dietary staple in many homes across North-East India. It is prepared by boiling yak buttermilk, separating the solids, and allowing it to ferment for a few days. In its soft form, Chhurpi closely resembles Italian ricotta cheese, while the hard variety is considered to be among the hardest in the world. People particularly enjoy chewing on hard Chhurpi in chilly weather as it helps keeps them warm.


Bandel is a semi-soft cheese made from cow’s milk. Its origins can be traced back to when the Portuguese introduced the art of cheese-making to Bengal. With a soft and crumbly texture similar to feta cheese, Bandel exudes a strong aroma and a smoky, salty flavour. The cheese-making process involves using lemon juice to separate the whey and curds, after which the curd is moulded, drained, salted, and smoked. Bandel pairs exceptionally well with risottos, salads, and pastas. While this culinary tradition may be relatively niche, there has been a growing movement in recent years to revive the art of Bandel cheese-making and provide support to local artisans engaged in this craft.

Topli Nu Paneer

Topli Nu Paneer is a silky cheese with a special place in traditional Parsi cuisine. It is also known as Surti Paneer as it was first introduced to the Parsi community by the Dutch in Surat. Topli Nu Paneer is made by coagulating buffalo milk with rennet, resulting in a soft, velvety cheese, creamy in texture and consistency. The milk solids are separated from the whey and set in baskets, known as toplis, resembling fresh mozzarella balls. It has a delightful salty taste that comes from being preserved in whey.

With Godrej Food Trends Report predicting the resurgence of locally-made artisanal cheeses in 2023, it’s an exciting time to take a closer look at these native varieties and experience the richness they have to offer. To discover more such trends in the coming year, download GFTR2023.

Which is your favourite type of cheese? Let us know in the comments below!

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