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“Say cheese “Food Bytes By Monish Gujral First published in Sunday standard on 8th May 2011
Posted on 08. May, 2011 by motimahal in Uncategorized
For the love of cheese
Although India , the land of Krishna , has been always known for the abundance of milk , Butter and Cheese but nevertheless milk and milk products have been passionately consumed all over the globe since hundreds of centuries. Whenever we talk of milk , I always say cheese…..Which is one of my all time favorite .From Brie ,bra , cambazolla,,mozzarella and ricotta there are numerous varieties of cheese available in the market all over the world.
There are many stories regarding the discovery of cheese .It was known to Ancient Sumerians , four thousand years before the birth of Christ. Cheese is also mentioned in the old testament , ancient Greeks credited the son of Apollo with its discovery and in Rome cheese making was doen with skill and knowledge which reached a high standard.
Many consider that cheese was first made in the Middle East. The earliest type was a form of sour milk which came into being when it was discovered that domesticated animals could be milked. cheese was ‘discovered’ by an unknown Arab nomad . He is said to have filled a saddlebag with milk to sustain him on a journey across the desert by horse. After several hours riding he stopped to quench his thirst, only to find that the milk had separated into a pale watery liquid and solid white lumps. Since the saddlebag, which was made from the stomach of a young animal, contained a coagulating enzyme known as rennin, the milk had been effectively separated into curds and whey by the combination of the rennin, the hot sun and the galloping motions of the horse. The nomad, unconcerned with technical details, found the whey drinkable and the curds edible. The result invention of Cheese .
During the Middle Ages, monks became innovators and developers and it is to them we owe many of the classic varieties of cheese marketed today. During the Renaissance period there was a dip in the cheese popularity, being considered unhealthy, but it regained favour by the nineteenth century, the period that saw the start of the move from farm to factory production with a large variety and quality of cheeses .Despite of nemerous delicious varities of cheese in the market , for me the show stopper is Feta Cheese- A salty, crumbly, curdy cheese that is most often made from goat’s or sheep’s milk. As opposed to other cheeses which are aged or cured, Feta Cheese is pickled in brine, hence its high salt content.
Originally referred to as “fresh,” or “recent” for it’s taste, the Greek word “feta” is appeared in the Greek language during the 1600s, and is derived from the Italian word “fetta,” meaning “slice.” It has historically been produced by peasants.
Although Feta is a common ingredient in many Greek dishes, and is eaten both raw, cooked, and grilled. But I like to eat it in the common Greek salad (traditionally composed of tomatoes, cucumber, romaine lettuce, green peppers, red onion, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and a dressing of olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano) Alternativley I love to eat it with fresh pita bread, watermelon, mint, calamata olives, green olives, tomatoes, olive oil, cucumber, watermelon, grapes
Wine those Complement Feta Cheese are:
chardonnay, pinot noir, riesling, sauvignon blanc
Beverage Complements:
mint tea, iced tea
Having talked about feta so much in this column let me share ,one of favourite recipes -
Recipe: Vegetable feta bake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 70 minutes
1 large sweet potato
1 large potato
1 red onion
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
1/2 head of garlic
4 Tablespoons olive oil
Black pepper
500gm feta cheese
1/Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2.Cut sweet potato into rough 1-1/2-inch cubes and potato in lightly smaller (1-inch cubes) as the sweet potato will cook more quickly.
3.Halve the onion then cut each half into 4 to 6 segments, discarding any tough outer skin.
4.Seed the peppers and cut into 1-inch squares, and separate the cloves of garlic
5.Put everything into a 2-quart ovenproof casserole and, using your hands, give the vegetables a good coating of olive oil Season with black pepper, but no salt as the cheese will make it salty (as the salt will make water leach out).
6.Cook for 45 minutes, by which time the vegetables should be cooked through and here and there tinged with brown.
7. place the thinly sliced cheese on top of the bake, and put it back in the very hot oven or under the broiler until the cheese has melted and turned slightly brown on top, about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve straight out of the roasting pan.
Yield: 2 to 3 servings

First chef from India to be invited to Le cordon Bleu to demonstrate in Paris. Monish is credited with the trailblazing turn-around of Moti Mahal, from being a small but iconic presence in Delhi, to becoming a multi-national corporation that is well on its way to defining how the world eats Indian food. A traditionalist, Monish has remained true to the signature dishes that made Moti Mahal a legend, while reinventing the dining experience into one that is exciting and avant garde to suit modern sensibilities.

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