Paneer, milk coagulation and the World's Number One...

India was very much in our minds today. Almost uniquely amongst countries in its region, India has a very strong tradition of dairying. Not many people outside the sub-continent know that India is actually the world's number one producer of milk, producing from both cattle and buffaloes. However, most milk is consumed locally and relatively little is processed. A major dairy product in India ia ghee (similar to clarified butter oil) which, in addition to cooking, also has religious and medicinal uses.

Indian cheeses include Paneer, in which the milk is coagulated by a combination of heat and pre-formed acid. The coagulation method used in Paneer thus similar to that used for Ricotta and some forms of Queso Blanco but differs from most other cheeses, for which the milk is coagulated by limited proteolysis by enzymes from rennets (most varieties) or by slow quiescent acidification by starter organisms (acid-curd cheeses, e.g., Cottage cheese, Cream cheese and Quarg).

The flag of India was flying today next to the Tricolour over the Main Quad of UCC to welcome India's ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency Mr PS Raghavan. UCC, and particularly Food Science, has had a long association with India. Numerous students, mainly from Anand Agricultural University, have completed research MSc and PhD degrees in Food Chemistry; all have been very good and they integrated into life in UCC very smoothly (and incidentally, gave me a great taste for Indian food!). Coincidentally, Dr RRP Singh (below), from the National Dairy Research Institute at Karnal (and an Anand graduate) also visited UCC today.