By Hand From The Heart is a biannual Makers Market held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
We chat up with cheese makers Namrata Sundaresan and Anuradha Krishnamoorthy of Käse, Chennai. They share with us their start-up story and their plans for the makers market; from making cheese in Chennai to sharing their personal favourite picks – Namrata and Anuradha , are clearly hands on folks who love working with cheese.
1. A bit about yourself. Do you have a food background?
Anu & I do not have a food background but it’s a love for food that we both share. We have been friends for a long time now and the idea of Käse came about while catching up over a cup of coffee. Anu runs CAN DO that focusses on the abilities of people with disabilities and provides them training and employment in tele-calling and data/desk research services. I have been a strategy consultant for over 15 years now and my firm is called Group IBI.
I learnt cheese-making while on a holiday last year, so when Anu and I were talking about possible training opportunities for CAN DO in the food sector, I ventured to pilot with a small team on cheese making. This was sometime in May 2016, we have been making cheese since!
2. Why cheese? Have you always been drawn to cheese?
Cheese has always fascinated me, with milk as the only ingredient the variety of cheese that’s made in different parts of the world is extremely fascinating! Ofcourse the microbes, rennet, weather and lot of other factors play their significant roles, but it all starts with the humble milk.
Much loved as cheese is – it is however, sometimes misunderstood. Processed cheese, is not cheese and all cheese are not fat heavy. Fresh cheese is healthy, nutritious and delicious and a great source of dietary calcium, protein, other vitamins and minerals – that zinc, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and vitamin K2. Fat ranges from 1% (cottage cheese) to 25% (cream cheese).
At Käse we make a variety of fresh cheese, feta, mozzarella, halloumi, burratta, ricotta, cottage cheese, cream cheese, labneh. A ‘clean’ product with no added chemicals, additives or preservatives.
3. Making cheese in Chennai. What’s involved?
Well the weather for one which can play havoc with the cheese and the milk to begin with, we have struggled through some extremely humid days where despite the aircons working full capacity doesn’t help. But I think through certain trial and errors we have learnt some dos and don’ts.
The milk is the key and we source from two different sources and have also identified a third for a range of organic cheese that we would launch soon. From our current suppliers we ensure that the cows are not given any antibiotics/ hormones or genetically modified organisms/ or synthetic chemicals. Also that their green feed areas are without any pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
4. Describe a typical day at KASE.
A typical day starts with sanitizing our work area, sterilizing the vessels, pasteurizing the milk. The first couple of steps of cheese-making for all varieties follow the same procedure – ripening of the milk with a culture, coagulation of the milk with rennet and then cutting of the curds. There is a lot resting time between each process and that’s primarily the time used for planning, working on customer orders, stock taking and everything else!
5. Your work space.
We are in the heart of the city, Abhiramapuram – not a typical cheese making unit as one might envision. A lovely space on a huge terrace overlooking our herb garden.
6. Tell us about your products that you propose to showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.
We have been working on a range of flavoured cottage cheese, using some artisanal techniques we give the fresh cottage cheese a different texture and look to mimic an aged cheese. We have flavors like cumin & thyme, chilli & honey, a spicy malagai podi, mustard, white pepper. At BHFTH we would have these, pickled feta, feta with charred leek, halloumi, mozzarella our dips and relishes.
7. What’s your favourite pick with KASE ?
The feta with charred leek is an absolute favourite! But so is the halloumi with sea salt and wild mint and the stretchy mozzarella!
8. What’s the best thing about being a food entrepreneur?
There are two aspects to this – one is the fact that we are providing our customers with a product that is clean, healthy with zero chemicals, preservatives or additives.
9. Your advice for aspiring food artisans / food entrepreneurs?
Stay true to what you believe in, it’s not only about scaling up but being sustainable too.
10. About Chennai.
Chennai is Anu’s home and has been home to me for over 15 years now. The city is special to both of us.
At the Makers Market exhibition in Chennai this October, meet the maker!
By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – Festival Special – 19th Edition
Date: Friday – Saturday, 7th – 8th October, 2016
Time: 10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Venue: Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
Address: 132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India