“Kalari” the traditional Cheese of Jammu and Kashmir

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Written by Satuti Abrol

Kashmir is famous for its Wazwaan, but people are not aware that the Jammu province of the state has also some special food and cuisine that is not found anywhere else. One of the traditional cuisines is ‘Kalari’. Kalari cheese, an indigenous type of cheese made in Jammu region is one of the most famous delicacies of Jammu province.

“KALARI” is a traditional cheese which is made in the areas of Rajouri, Poonch and Udhampur of Jammu Province of Jammu and Kashmir state of India. ‘Kalari’ is also known as desi mozzarella cheese.

When there were no transport facilities in the distant and hilly areas of Udhampur. There was no Jammu-Srinagar National highway. There were no ways and means to supply milk to towns and cities. Population was less dense in the past and there were large number of cows and buffaloes kept in the houses. There was no shortage of fodder and sufficient grass was available for grazing the cattle in meadows. Availability of milk in each house was more than the requirement of the family but there were no resources of sale to the market. 

That be the reason behind the invention of Kalari, because it doesn’t get spoiled soon and may be sold in cities later.

Kalari Kulcha

The traditional method of preperation of kalari does resemble with Paneer/cheese only with slight difference. While preparing the Paneer, container of milk is put on heat and when milk is boiled it get split by putting a sour substance like lemon etc. Same is tied in a cloth and placed underneath a weight of stone. After two hours, cheese is prepared and can be used as per the requirement.

As far as the preparation of Kalari is concerned, milk container is kept on heat for a little while to get it as lukewarm and remains of split milk known as “Matha” is poured in to the milk. The milk is split and small tikkis are prepared manually out of the released fat. These tikkis or kalaris are kept carefully in a basket to dry up and ripe in sunlight. When they dry up, kalaris are brought to the market for sale. There is a huge demand of kalaris in the market. Its large scale production can improve the economy of farmers. 

How to cook it at home?
Kalari is eaten as a snack by frying in its own fat and salted before serving. While frying, it just melts like mozzarella cheese on pizza and it gets harden on cooling. It is then served with buns or breads. The well cooked kalari has a brownish crispy layer outside but from inside it is very soft and gooey cheese. The flavour and aroma of kalari is just irresistible. Writing about it only fills my mouth with water.

Only experts can cook it:
It sounds easy but preparing kalari is not an easy thing. It is an art which require some expertise. Nobody can cook kalari at the very first time. It is very difficult to handle. If you are an amateur, there must be chances that you ruin your kalari while cooking it. 

Some people use butter or ghee-
There is no need to use butter and ghee in it as kalari itself releases ghee. But people often use ghee or butter to make it crispy.

Innovations-
You can make kalari in different ways-
Like you can make a kulcha out of it and serve it with tamarind chutney
Or you can make burger and use kalari as a mozzarella cheese in that burger.
You can also make proper burger with kalari as the patty layers of coleslaw like salad, tomatoes etc filled up in a bun.
You can even use kalari as a substitute of mozzarella while making Pizzas, Brochettes.
You can even make vegetable with kalari.
You can make pulao with kalari.

Kalari is roasted in a pan and salt is sprinkled over it before serving. Kalari kulcha is popular snack in the Jammu Province. Kalari kulcha is a famous street food of Jammu and Kashmir as well and can be seen in the menu list of road side vendors and big shops. It is very tasty and a favorite dish of people of Jammu. Kalari is presented in varied delicacies and is quite tempting. These days kalari has become a part of various snack stalls arranged in different parties and functions.

Satuti Abrol is the student of Mass Communication and New Media in Central University of Jammu

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