Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Update on Mukund Naidu in Bangalore, India

Mukund Naidu (photo by Sandesh Ravikumar)

I did an article about Mukund 3 years ago in July, 2010.  At that time, he was one of very few cheese makers in India and he still is.  Cheese is still in the beginning stages there, but interest in it is growing rapidly.  Mukund is at the forefront of the artisan cheese movement in India.

If you read our Facebook page regularly, you may feel as if you already know Mukund.  He has contributed a lot of valuable tips and advice for cheese makers there.  (I don't always get a chance to thank one of our friends, but I do now!)

This month, Food Lovers Magazine out of Bangalore featured a large section about cheese (their cover story).  It's a fabulous article with lots of good information for home cheese makers. I subscribed for $4.99/year (click here) and was able to read the issue online.

The article is fabulous, but the most exciting part for us is that it features an entire page about Mukund, including his recipe for making cream cheese.  The photo below (by Sandesh Ravikumar ) accompanies the article:

Mukund took the photo below::

Mukund told us:

The food styling in the photo (above) was done by me.  So, also, the whole wheat bread which I bake at home.  The cheeses (which I regularly stock at home) on the platter are Brie, Gran Bavarese, Emmenthaler, Welsh Cheddar, Grana Padano and Greek Feta.  In the foreground is my Herbed Cream Cheese, Ricotta and Mascarpone.  Accompaniments include fruits (apples, pears, grapes) and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and whole wheat bread and fresh herbs.

This summer, Mukund took a two week "affinage tour" through Southern India:

I went with a friend Mansi Jasani who returned from the US recently. She did a short course at The Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese and did a stint at Murrays in NY.

Artisan cheese is still in its nascent stage in India with a handful making good cheese.  Most cheeses in shops are imports.  Some artisan and DOP, PDO & AOC but the rest are factory produced on a large scale.  Knowledge of artisan cheese is limited to those who have returned from a visit abroad or a long stay.

There are two parts to the reason for the visit.  I went on the tour to meet the cheese makers again to touch base and see what each one is doing.  The second  part is that this trip was also a type of a recce trip (site survey). 

Our plan is to make a TV series or a documentary on artisan cheese makers in India. The stumbling block is finding a producer for this because, as I said earlier, artisan cheese is not something well known.  Therefore, in a way, it is a catch 22 situation. 

We would like to bring together the cheese makers and promote them. Yet, we are so few in number it's difficult to make a dent in the market or to do promotions all by ourselves.  But it's all in the planning stage and hopefully something will come out of it in the future.  

I need to start a cheese society to get all the artisan cheese makers together which would be a platform to share ideas, concepts and much more.  Lets see what the future holds.

Picture from Mukund's Facebook page
Mukund still operates his dairy in Goa and he also does consulting for other artisan cheese makers.  I asked Mukund if he was still making cheese at home:

Yes, I make fresh cheese at home. I make herbed cheese from fresh milk and using fresh herbs like parsley, thyme with garlic salt & pepper. I use Mucour Mehei vegetarian rennet and usually natural yoghurt for fermenting though I have a stock of culture packs.  I also make mascarpone.  All my fresh cheese is for personal use to eat as is or in my baking experiments. I also give it to my friends & colleagues.

In the article, Mukund offers advice to beginning cheese makers:

The high point of cheese making is definitely not in the money it brings you.  If you're looking for big bucks, this is the wrong profession.  But if you're looking at this as a passion, I can tell you there is nothing more satisfying than making cheese.  Cheese has been called milk's leap toward immortality.  Milk spoils; it's shelf life is short.  But in cheese form, you create something living and exciting;  there's chemistry inside.
Mukund has a very active Facebook page with lots of good information about cheese and his other grand passion - music (click here).

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