Small-scale cheese from the foothills of the NIlgiris, since 1975
For a country otherwise obsessed with dairy products, cheese is barely consumed in India. While paneer, dahi and other milk based-products are heavily used in Indian cuisine, cheese doesn't generally go well with spicy Indian food. But with a growing demand for gourmet food, cheese is slowly coming into limelight.
But few would know about this small scale dairy farm, started in the foothills of the Nilgiri Hills, in Kodaikanal.
Kodai Cheese, started way back in 1975 by Mr. GS Mani, has been producing - and mostly exporting - high quality varieties of cheese. Parmesan, Emmental, Feta, Gouda, and their smoked / pepper versions - their inventory contains all of the major cheese varieties.
Mr. Mani took over a shuttering unit in Kodaikanal in 1975, and converted it into a cheese producing unit. The farm and the factory moved 60kms to the plains in 2000s, where 25 workers work on a small 16 acre farm using organic practises.
For the longest time, Kodai cheese worked as a supplier for other brands - Parle, Domino's Taj, British Airways, Nature's Basket - so if you've ever tasted good quality cheese in India, chances are that you've already tasted their products.
But in the last few years, they have also started selling their own branded cheese products - which you can buy from Nature's Basket / Big Basket / Amazon. The prices are at par with other international cheese brands, but hey - so is the quality!
Kodai Cheese is truly a fascinating story - and a product - that all of us can be vocal for. A brand that is directly supporting employment in rural areas, by producing international quality products.