Mumbai's Eleftheria wins World's Best Cheese of the Year award in 2023
Mausam Narang. owner of the Eleftheria Cheese company says artisanal cheese is "a labour of love, an expression of the land it’s made in"
Indian cheese the best in the world?! Shockingly, true.
Mausam Narang-owned Eleftheria Cheese, a Mumbai-based company, won the World's Best Cheese of the Year award for 2023 in Norway last month.
“The artisanal cheese industry is still in its nascent stages in India," Narang told the Indian Express in an interview soon after. "When I decided to quit my corporate job to make cheese, it still wasn’t considered as a good career option, and my parents thought I was just pursuing a hobby. When we started our journey (in 2015), most of the restaurants and hotels were still buying and using imported cheese.”
Artisanal cheese, Narang says, is "truly a labour of love. It’s an expression of the land that it’s made in”. Mausam remains rueful that besides paneer, the world is still largely unaware about Indian artisanal cheese.
Sharing her steep learning curve to success, Mausam told the Indian Express, "The cheesemaking ingredients were so hard to come by back in the day that I had to import most of it in small quantities. Even though India is one of the largest producers of milk in the world, the quality of the milk was not up to the mark for cheesemaking. It took months and months of scouting for the right dairy farms to partner with."
Mausam left her corporate job to pursue cheesemaking and started her venture in 2015. Her creations are born out of a desire to put out what she would truly enjoy eating herself or be happy to serve to her friends and family.
"Also, initially, I taught myself how to make cheese and that of course involved a lot of trial and error. Eventually, over the years, I trained with master cheesemakers in Italy to hone my craft," she added, sharing that her small team are working on “some new exciting styles of cheeses in 2024”.
Eletheria's winning cheeses for this year, for those of us planning a New Year's platter:
Her semi-hard Brunost, a whey-based cheese 'brown' cheese (as its name suggests), won a Super Gold award.
The Konark, a French Tomme-style cow's milk cheese, got Gold (it derives it name from its resemblance to the iconic golden-hued chariot wheels of Odisha's renowned Sun Temple)
The Medallion, a goat's-milk feta style cheese, was another Super Gold-winner.