The conservation of milk in India

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Extract of the talk given during The Soft Protest, re-chewing & Digest's dinner
in October 2019 at Corridor project space in Amsterdam.

“Since the start of our dinner, we have been talking about milk, meat and the transformation of milk in cheese. But what about its use in pastry? In the western world, milk is more than often only used to replace water. Pancakes, custards, cake batters are always diluted with milk, and not water, which is reserved to savory dishes. 

However, India, which is the first milk producing country in the world, puts it at the center of most of its preparation. Considering the cow as a sacred animal which cannot be slaughtered, hinduist milk manufacturers have had to rely on other technics than using rennet (which is an enzyme collected from the stomachs of recently slaughtered calves) to produce cheese and conserve milk.  One of these technics is at the base of many indian sweets and is called “khoa”. By reducing milk at 80°C for a long period of time, you get a cheese-like product, with a long shelf life which tastes sweet, as it as cooked and concentrated the sugars originally stored in the grass.

Therefore, our dessert his evening has been made without any sweetener. No sugar, no honey, no syrup. Only the sugar present in the milk. This sugar is a direct link to the grass on which the cow has grazed.

Next to it, is placed a disk of jellyfied whey (which is a by-product of the cheeses we served you) as well as shards of caramelized whey. Whey (which is the liquid you have at the surface of your yogurt) is in fact, more than a by-product: the production of 1kg of cheese often results into 9kg of extra whey. In Europe, it is often spread on land and fed to animals, but can be recycled as ricotta, or more surprisingly sodas, like the “Rivella” we are serving to you tonight.”

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