Churpi: A Traditional and Age-old Himalayan Cheese
Churpi or Durkha is a hardened cheese that is primarily consumed in the Himalayan regions of Nepal, Bhutan, India, and Tibet. Whey from buttermilk solids is separated to make Churpi and produce curd which resembles the Italian ricotta in form, taste, and preparation. Curds that are fresh are white, soft, and possess a neutral taste. They are left to ferment to make it slightly tangy.
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Types of Churpi
There are two main varieties of Churpi – soft cheese which is prepared from cow milk and hard cheese which is prepared from yak milk.
Soft Durkha or Churpi is used as a substitute for vegetables in the mountainous region and is often used to cook curry or pickles and is eaten with rice as a staple food. The freshly prepared Churpi is known as Chhur singba or Chhur mingba once the extract of crab apple fruits (thung) is added to it. Additionally, Churpi also makes for an excellent source of protein.
Hard Durkha or Churpi is made from the milk of Himalayan yaks. For preparing, the buttermilk is boiled until it becomes a solid mass. It is then separated from the liquid and wrapped and hung in a thin cloth to drain out the excess water. The initial product obtained from this process is soft, white and neutral in taste (soft churpi). In order to make it hard, this soft churpi is again wrapped in a jute bag and pressed hard to drain the water. After it dries, it is cut into small cuboidal pieces and left to dry in the sun or dried in the oven on low heat to harden it further. This kind of Churpis becomes very hard over time and can last for up to 20 years if stored properly in yak skin, also known as mongnang. Did you know, if this kind of Churpi is about 4-5 years old, it is called chhurpupu.
Churpi is extensively used in Nepal to keep their mouths busy in order for the body to keep itself warm. The inhabitants of Nepal and Tibet are used to chewing this every morning to go through the tremendous low temperatures.
How is Churpi prepared?
Step 1: The Yak-milk, without separating the butter is boiled in order to vaporize the water.
Step 2: The leftover solid lumps are then put in a thin cloth and hung at room temperature to drain out the water. This forms Soft Churpi.
Step 3: To make the Churpi hard, it is further placed in jute bags and then pressed hard.
Step 4: It is then cut into small cube-like pieces.
Step 5: Finally, these pieces are left to dry in the sun or are dried in an oven on low heat.
How does Churpi benefit the body?
Consumption of Churpi provides a host of nutrients and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and all the B vitamins. It consists of a high healthy fat content when compared to cheese made from cow milk. It is effective in removing plaque and tartar from the teeth and in keeping the gums strong. Yak milk is the main ingredient in Churpi which ensures its high protein content, Omega 3 fatty acids, and anti-oxidants. Churpi is gluten-free and can be easily digested by people with lactose intolerance and sensitive stomachs.
According to WebMD, yak cheese is three times higher in omega-3 fatty acids than cheddar cheese. Omega-3 fatty acids have been studied for various health benefits one of them being heart health. Yak cheese is also rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is also found in flaxseeds and other plants.
Yak cheese is also rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been known to have a range of positive health benefits against cancer, fat gain, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions.
Churpi or Yak cheese is not extensively available around India. It is only found in a few gourmet shops and e-Commerce websites. Himalayan Natives 100% Natural Churpi is made using the traditional and age-old Himalayan recipe. It is gluten-free and has no preservatives, chemicals, or pesticides. Try out these all-natural chewing gums for a healthy lifestyle.