Traditional recipes

What Exactly is in American Cheese?

What Exactly is in American Cheese?

Nearly every refrigerator in America has some American cheese in it, be it Kraft Singles, Velveeta, Cheez Whiz, or some other rubbery yellow food product that melts really well. But as we all know, American cheese isn’t exactly cheese in the purest sense of the term, like a good fontina or Camembert. So… what is it, exactly?

Let’s use Kraft Singles as an example. It actually can’t be called “cheese” according to government standards, so instead it’s called “Pasteurized Process Cheese Food,” meaning (among other things) that it must have a fat content of no less than 23 percent, a moisture content of no more than 44 percent, and an actual cheese content of 51 percent. So this means that more than half of Kraft Singles is in fact real cheese.

So what are the ingredients in Kraft Singles? Let’s break it down one by one:

Milk
Milk is… milk.

Whey
Whey is the liquid that’s left over after butter-churning or milk-making; it’s very high in protein

Salt
Table salt.

Cheese Culture
A bacterial culture that’s added to all cheese during the first stages of the cheesemaking process.

Enzymes
Another necessary ingredient in all cheesemaking, enzymes like rennet cause the milk to coagulate.

All of the above are the essential ingredients used to make real cheese. Here's what else is added:

Milk Fat
The fat in milk. Butter, basically.

Calcium Phosphate
This is the calcium that’s found in dairy, the stuff that does a body good.

Sodium Citrate
This is an emulsifier that holds the cheese together; it’s also used in everything from sausage to ice cream.

Sodium Phosphate
Another emulsifier; it’s also used as a leavening agent in some baked goods.

Sorbic Acid
A naturally-occurring preservative.

Annatto Extract
A natural yellow-orange food coloring.

Vitamin D3
Added as a nutritional supplement.

So yes, American cheese has a couple additional ingredients to help it congeal nicely and melt in that perfectly melty way, but in reality, it’s not too different from plain old cheese.


I Accept Amul Cheese Exactly As It Is: Canned, Processed, and Perfect

Before you lambast me about being a cheese snob, hear me out: the reason I dislike American cheese has nothing to do with the fact that it’s processed. Quite the contrary. I don’t care for American cheese because I grew up with a processed cheese that is far superior. Allow me to introduce you to Amul cheese, India’s greatest dairy product to ever come from a can.

Amul, an Indian dairy company based in Gujarat, specializes is butter, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese made using milk from Indian buffalos, which lends a very specific flavor—it’s richer, a little nuttier, a little funkier. It started in 1948 as a dairy cooperative meant to help bring milk products to smaller cities in response to a monopoly created by a company called Polson. Many of the people Amul was selling to didn’t have access to refrigeration, so shelf-stable, long-lasting products were developed, like the cheese (its official shelf life is nine months). People in India are crazy loyal to Amul products, but it’s that cheese that inspires by far the most cultiness. #Amulcheese is a trending hashtag with close to 2,500 posts. And then there are these ads, in which a reserved boy eats a slice of Amul cheese before a big game/when he is about to perform on stage/when he finds a monster in his closet—and he somehow gains cheese-powered super-confidence. People love them.

Imagine the super-confidence that awaits you.

Amul cheese is a hard, canned cheese that tastes like cheddar with a plot twist. It’s got a familiar buttery flavor, but it’s slightly sour. It’s hard but pliable, melts beautifully, and is saltier than you’d expect. Because it’s canned and packed with who knows how many preservatives, it will last forever. I distinctly remember when my dad would stockpile cans and cans of Amul cheese at the top of our pantry, and those would last us for the year. Our favorite way to eat it was grating and then melting it onto tomato toast, with a sprinkling of chaat masala, which brought out all of Amul cheese’s wonderfully weird flavors. In my cookbook, the tomato-cheese toast recipe calls for cheddar, because Amul cheese isn’t widely available—but if you really want to eat the dish as the Krishnas do, you should order a can online. Once you’ve had a grilled cheese made with Amul cheese, the American cheese version will forever taste bland and boring.

Beyond the taste, the cult of Amul cheese has mainly to do with the nostalgia that it carries. Like Maggi noodles, India’s Instant ramen of choice, or Parle-G cookies, our preferred tea accompaniment, Amul cheese takes Indians of multiple generations back to their childhoods. My dad always told me that Amul cheese, more than anything else, tasted like India to him. To me, it tastes like being at my parents’ house in Texas.

Because it’s such a home pantry staple, I’ve been surprised to see the cheese in dishes at popular Indian restaurants: mixed with chilies and stuffed in naan at Adda in Long Island City, in a grilled cheese with mint chutney at USHA foods in Queens, and in a chicken-chutney sandwich at Pondicheri, in Houston and New York.

Chintan Pandya, the chef of Adda, told me that he first tried Amul cheese when he was 9 or 10—it was a luxury to his family, something that he was only able to eat on special occasions. “I still crave the taste of it. Every other cheese, despite the best of taste and ingredients, just feels a bit cerebral.”

Last year, he says there was a shortage of Amul cheese in New York and New Jersey. “I ended up personally driving to stores in Philadelphia to pick up as much Amul cheese as I could,” he says. “My chefs recommended that I use cheddar, but I would not do it as I felt it would be affecting the integrity of the Indian dish.”

Similarly, Anita Jaisinghani, the chef of Pondicheri, grew up in India with Amul as the only cheese available in stores. She calls it her “secret weapon” in her restaurants. “It has a creamy, intense flavor that is like none other,” she says. “And this is from a person who eats almost nothing processed.”

Amul cheese’s success is somewhat improbable. Here’s an almost completely artificial food that has depth and complexity, that’s beloved by Indians alike (even chefs!), and that I would take over cheddar any day of the week. I am fully aware of its flaws, but I love it so much anyway. Unlike most other things in my life, I accept Amul cheese for exactly what it is. And there’s something pretty wonderful about that.


I Accept Amul Cheese Exactly As It Is: Canned, Processed, and Perfect

Before you lambast me about being a cheese snob, hear me out: the reason I dislike American cheese has nothing to do with the fact that it’s processed. Quite the contrary. I don’t care for American cheese because I grew up with a processed cheese that is far superior. Allow me to introduce you to Amul cheese, India’s greatest dairy product to ever come from a can.

Amul, an Indian dairy company based in Gujarat, specializes is butter, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese made using milk from Indian buffalos, which lends a very specific flavor—it’s richer, a little nuttier, a little funkier. It started in 1948 as a dairy cooperative meant to help bring milk products to smaller cities in response to a monopoly created by a company called Polson. Many of the people Amul was selling to didn’t have access to refrigeration, so shelf-stable, long-lasting products were developed, like the cheese (its official shelf life is nine months). People in India are crazy loyal to Amul products, but it’s that cheese that inspires by far the most cultiness. #Amulcheese is a trending hashtag with close to 2,500 posts. And then there are these ads, in which a reserved boy eats a slice of Amul cheese before a big game/when he is about to perform on stage/when he finds a monster in his closet—and he somehow gains cheese-powered super-confidence. People love them.

Imagine the super-confidence that awaits you.

Amul cheese is a hard, canned cheese that tastes like cheddar with a plot twist. It’s got a familiar buttery flavor, but it’s slightly sour. It’s hard but pliable, melts beautifully, and is saltier than you’d expect. Because it’s canned and packed with who knows how many preservatives, it will last forever. I distinctly remember when my dad would stockpile cans and cans of Amul cheese at the top of our pantry, and those would last us for the year. Our favorite way to eat it was grating and then melting it onto tomato toast, with a sprinkling of chaat masala, which brought out all of Amul cheese’s wonderfully weird flavors. In my cookbook, the tomato-cheese toast recipe calls for cheddar, because Amul cheese isn’t widely available—but if you really want to eat the dish as the Krishnas do, you should order a can online. Once you’ve had a grilled cheese made with Amul cheese, the American cheese version will forever taste bland and boring.

Beyond the taste, the cult of Amul cheese has mainly to do with the nostalgia that it carries. Like Maggi noodles, India’s Instant ramen of choice, or Parle-G cookies, our preferred tea accompaniment, Amul cheese takes Indians of multiple generations back to their childhoods. My dad always told me that Amul cheese, more than anything else, tasted like India to him. To me, it tastes like being at my parents’ house in Texas.

Because it’s such a home pantry staple, I’ve been surprised to see the cheese in dishes at popular Indian restaurants: mixed with chilies and stuffed in naan at Adda in Long Island City, in a grilled cheese with mint chutney at USHA foods in Queens, and in a chicken-chutney sandwich at Pondicheri, in Houston and New York.

Chintan Pandya, the chef of Adda, told me that he first tried Amul cheese when he was 9 or 10—it was a luxury to his family, something that he was only able to eat on special occasions. “I still crave the taste of it. Every other cheese, despite the best of taste and ingredients, just feels a bit cerebral.”

Last year, he says there was a shortage of Amul cheese in New York and New Jersey. “I ended up personally driving to stores in Philadelphia to pick up as much Amul cheese as I could,” he says. “My chefs recommended that I use cheddar, but I would not do it as I felt it would be affecting the integrity of the Indian dish.”

Similarly, Anita Jaisinghani, the chef of Pondicheri, grew up in India with Amul as the only cheese available in stores. She calls it her “secret weapon” in her restaurants. “It has a creamy, intense flavor that is like none other,” she says. “And this is from a person who eats almost nothing processed.”

Amul cheese’s success is somewhat improbable. Here’s an almost completely artificial food that has depth and complexity, that’s beloved by Indians alike (even chefs!), and that I would take over cheddar any day of the week. I am fully aware of its flaws, but I love it so much anyway. Unlike most other things in my life, I accept Amul cheese for exactly what it is. And there’s something pretty wonderful about that.


I Accept Amul Cheese Exactly As It Is: Canned, Processed, and Perfect

Before you lambast me about being a cheese snob, hear me out: the reason I dislike American cheese has nothing to do with the fact that it’s processed. Quite the contrary. I don’t care for American cheese because I grew up with a processed cheese that is far superior. Allow me to introduce you to Amul cheese, India’s greatest dairy product to ever come from a can.

Amul, an Indian dairy company based in Gujarat, specializes is butter, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese made using milk from Indian buffalos, which lends a very specific flavor—it’s richer, a little nuttier, a little funkier. It started in 1948 as a dairy cooperative meant to help bring milk products to smaller cities in response to a monopoly created by a company called Polson. Many of the people Amul was selling to didn’t have access to refrigeration, so shelf-stable, long-lasting products were developed, like the cheese (its official shelf life is nine months). People in India are crazy loyal to Amul products, but it’s that cheese that inspires by far the most cultiness. #Amulcheese is a trending hashtag with close to 2,500 posts. And then there are these ads, in which a reserved boy eats a slice of Amul cheese before a big game/when he is about to perform on stage/when he finds a monster in his closet—and he somehow gains cheese-powered super-confidence. People love them.

Imagine the super-confidence that awaits you.

Amul cheese is a hard, canned cheese that tastes like cheddar with a plot twist. It’s got a familiar buttery flavor, but it’s slightly sour. It’s hard but pliable, melts beautifully, and is saltier than you’d expect. Because it’s canned and packed with who knows how many preservatives, it will last forever. I distinctly remember when my dad would stockpile cans and cans of Amul cheese at the top of our pantry, and those would last us for the year. Our favorite way to eat it was grating and then melting it onto tomato toast, with a sprinkling of chaat masala, which brought out all of Amul cheese’s wonderfully weird flavors. In my cookbook, the tomato-cheese toast recipe calls for cheddar, because Amul cheese isn’t widely available—but if you really want to eat the dish as the Krishnas do, you should order a can online. Once you’ve had a grilled cheese made with Amul cheese, the American cheese version will forever taste bland and boring.

Beyond the taste, the cult of Amul cheese has mainly to do with the nostalgia that it carries. Like Maggi noodles, India’s Instant ramen of choice, or Parle-G cookies, our preferred tea accompaniment, Amul cheese takes Indians of multiple generations back to their childhoods. My dad always told me that Amul cheese, more than anything else, tasted like India to him. To me, it tastes like being at my parents’ house in Texas.

Because it’s such a home pantry staple, I’ve been surprised to see the cheese in dishes at popular Indian restaurants: mixed with chilies and stuffed in naan at Adda in Long Island City, in a grilled cheese with mint chutney at USHA foods in Queens, and in a chicken-chutney sandwich at Pondicheri, in Houston and New York.

Chintan Pandya, the chef of Adda, told me that he first tried Amul cheese when he was 9 or 10—it was a luxury to his family, something that he was only able to eat on special occasions. “I still crave the taste of it. Every other cheese, despite the best of taste and ingredients, just feels a bit cerebral.”

Last year, he says there was a shortage of Amul cheese in New York and New Jersey. “I ended up personally driving to stores in Philadelphia to pick up as much Amul cheese as I could,” he says. “My chefs recommended that I use cheddar, but I would not do it as I felt it would be affecting the integrity of the Indian dish.”

Similarly, Anita Jaisinghani, the chef of Pondicheri, grew up in India with Amul as the only cheese available in stores. She calls it her “secret weapon” in her restaurants. “It has a creamy, intense flavor that is like none other,” she says. “And this is from a person who eats almost nothing processed.”

Amul cheese’s success is somewhat improbable. Here’s an almost completely artificial food that has depth and complexity, that’s beloved by Indians alike (even chefs!), and that I would take over cheddar any day of the week. I am fully aware of its flaws, but I love it so much anyway. Unlike most other things in my life, I accept Amul cheese for exactly what it is. And there’s something pretty wonderful about that.


I Accept Amul Cheese Exactly As It Is: Canned, Processed, and Perfect

Before you lambast me about being a cheese snob, hear me out: the reason I dislike American cheese has nothing to do with the fact that it’s processed. Quite the contrary. I don’t care for American cheese because I grew up with a processed cheese that is far superior. Allow me to introduce you to Amul cheese, India’s greatest dairy product to ever come from a can.

Amul, an Indian dairy company based in Gujarat, specializes is butter, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese made using milk from Indian buffalos, which lends a very specific flavor—it’s richer, a little nuttier, a little funkier. It started in 1948 as a dairy cooperative meant to help bring milk products to smaller cities in response to a monopoly created by a company called Polson. Many of the people Amul was selling to didn’t have access to refrigeration, so shelf-stable, long-lasting products were developed, like the cheese (its official shelf life is nine months). People in India are crazy loyal to Amul products, but it’s that cheese that inspires by far the most cultiness. #Amulcheese is a trending hashtag with close to 2,500 posts. And then there are these ads, in which a reserved boy eats a slice of Amul cheese before a big game/when he is about to perform on stage/when he finds a monster in his closet—and he somehow gains cheese-powered super-confidence. People love them.

Imagine the super-confidence that awaits you.

Amul cheese is a hard, canned cheese that tastes like cheddar with a plot twist. It’s got a familiar buttery flavor, but it’s slightly sour. It’s hard but pliable, melts beautifully, and is saltier than you’d expect. Because it’s canned and packed with who knows how many preservatives, it will last forever. I distinctly remember when my dad would stockpile cans and cans of Amul cheese at the top of our pantry, and those would last us for the year. Our favorite way to eat it was grating and then melting it onto tomato toast, with a sprinkling of chaat masala, which brought out all of Amul cheese’s wonderfully weird flavors. In my cookbook, the tomato-cheese toast recipe calls for cheddar, because Amul cheese isn’t widely available—but if you really want to eat the dish as the Krishnas do, you should order a can online. Once you’ve had a grilled cheese made with Amul cheese, the American cheese version will forever taste bland and boring.

Beyond the taste, the cult of Amul cheese has mainly to do with the nostalgia that it carries. Like Maggi noodles, India’s Instant ramen of choice, or Parle-G cookies, our preferred tea accompaniment, Amul cheese takes Indians of multiple generations back to their childhoods. My dad always told me that Amul cheese, more than anything else, tasted like India to him. To me, it tastes like being at my parents’ house in Texas.

Because it’s such a home pantry staple, I’ve been surprised to see the cheese in dishes at popular Indian restaurants: mixed with chilies and stuffed in naan at Adda in Long Island City, in a grilled cheese with mint chutney at USHA foods in Queens, and in a chicken-chutney sandwich at Pondicheri, in Houston and New York.

Chintan Pandya, the chef of Adda, told me that he first tried Amul cheese when he was 9 or 10—it was a luxury to his family, something that he was only able to eat on special occasions. “I still crave the taste of it. Every other cheese, despite the best of taste and ingredients, just feels a bit cerebral.”

Last year, he says there was a shortage of Amul cheese in New York and New Jersey. “I ended up personally driving to stores in Philadelphia to pick up as much Amul cheese as I could,” he says. “My chefs recommended that I use cheddar, but I would not do it as I felt it would be affecting the integrity of the Indian dish.”

Similarly, Anita Jaisinghani, the chef of Pondicheri, grew up in India with Amul as the only cheese available in stores. She calls it her “secret weapon” in her restaurants. “It has a creamy, intense flavor that is like none other,” she says. “And this is from a person who eats almost nothing processed.”

Amul cheese’s success is somewhat improbable. Here’s an almost completely artificial food that has depth and complexity, that’s beloved by Indians alike (even chefs!), and that I would take over cheddar any day of the week. I am fully aware of its flaws, but I love it so much anyway. Unlike most other things in my life, I accept Amul cheese for exactly what it is. And there’s something pretty wonderful about that.


I Accept Amul Cheese Exactly As It Is: Canned, Processed, and Perfect

Before you lambast me about being a cheese snob, hear me out: the reason I dislike American cheese has nothing to do with the fact that it’s processed. Quite the contrary. I don’t care for American cheese because I grew up with a processed cheese that is far superior. Allow me to introduce you to Amul cheese, India’s greatest dairy product to ever come from a can.

Amul, an Indian dairy company based in Gujarat, specializes is butter, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese made using milk from Indian buffalos, which lends a very specific flavor—it’s richer, a little nuttier, a little funkier. It started in 1948 as a dairy cooperative meant to help bring milk products to smaller cities in response to a monopoly created by a company called Polson. Many of the people Amul was selling to didn’t have access to refrigeration, so shelf-stable, long-lasting products were developed, like the cheese (its official shelf life is nine months). People in India are crazy loyal to Amul products, but it’s that cheese that inspires by far the most cultiness. #Amulcheese is a trending hashtag with close to 2,500 posts. And then there are these ads, in which a reserved boy eats a slice of Amul cheese before a big game/when he is about to perform on stage/when he finds a monster in his closet—and he somehow gains cheese-powered super-confidence. People love them.

Imagine the super-confidence that awaits you.

Amul cheese is a hard, canned cheese that tastes like cheddar with a plot twist. It’s got a familiar buttery flavor, but it’s slightly sour. It’s hard but pliable, melts beautifully, and is saltier than you’d expect. Because it’s canned and packed with who knows how many preservatives, it will last forever. I distinctly remember when my dad would stockpile cans and cans of Amul cheese at the top of our pantry, and those would last us for the year. Our favorite way to eat it was grating and then melting it onto tomato toast, with a sprinkling of chaat masala, which brought out all of Amul cheese’s wonderfully weird flavors. In my cookbook, the tomato-cheese toast recipe calls for cheddar, because Amul cheese isn’t widely available—but if you really want to eat the dish as the Krishnas do, you should order a can online. Once you’ve had a grilled cheese made with Amul cheese, the American cheese version will forever taste bland and boring.

Beyond the taste, the cult of Amul cheese has mainly to do with the nostalgia that it carries. Like Maggi noodles, India’s Instant ramen of choice, or Parle-G cookies, our preferred tea accompaniment, Amul cheese takes Indians of multiple generations back to their childhoods. My dad always told me that Amul cheese, more than anything else, tasted like India to him. To me, it tastes like being at my parents’ house in Texas.

Because it’s such a home pantry staple, I’ve been surprised to see the cheese in dishes at popular Indian restaurants: mixed with chilies and stuffed in naan at Adda in Long Island City, in a grilled cheese with mint chutney at USHA foods in Queens, and in a chicken-chutney sandwich at Pondicheri, in Houston and New York.

Chintan Pandya, the chef of Adda, told me that he first tried Amul cheese when he was 9 or 10—it was a luxury to his family, something that he was only able to eat on special occasions. “I still crave the taste of it. Every other cheese, despite the best of taste and ingredients, just feels a bit cerebral.”

Last year, he says there was a shortage of Amul cheese in New York and New Jersey. “I ended up personally driving to stores in Philadelphia to pick up as much Amul cheese as I could,” he says. “My chefs recommended that I use cheddar, but I would not do it as I felt it would be affecting the integrity of the Indian dish.”

Similarly, Anita Jaisinghani, the chef of Pondicheri, grew up in India with Amul as the only cheese available in stores. She calls it her “secret weapon” in her restaurants. “It has a creamy, intense flavor that is like none other,” she says. “And this is from a person who eats almost nothing processed.”

Amul cheese’s success is somewhat improbable. Here’s an almost completely artificial food that has depth and complexity, that’s beloved by Indians alike (even chefs!), and that I would take over cheddar any day of the week. I am fully aware of its flaws, but I love it so much anyway. Unlike most other things in my life, I accept Amul cheese for exactly what it is. And there’s something pretty wonderful about that.


I Accept Amul Cheese Exactly As It Is: Canned, Processed, and Perfect

Before you lambast me about being a cheese snob, hear me out: the reason I dislike American cheese has nothing to do with the fact that it’s processed. Quite the contrary. I don’t care for American cheese because I grew up with a processed cheese that is far superior. Allow me to introduce you to Amul cheese, India’s greatest dairy product to ever come from a can.

Amul, an Indian dairy company based in Gujarat, specializes is butter, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese made using milk from Indian buffalos, which lends a very specific flavor—it’s richer, a little nuttier, a little funkier. It started in 1948 as a dairy cooperative meant to help bring milk products to smaller cities in response to a monopoly created by a company called Polson. Many of the people Amul was selling to didn’t have access to refrigeration, so shelf-stable, long-lasting products were developed, like the cheese (its official shelf life is nine months). People in India are crazy loyal to Amul products, but it’s that cheese that inspires by far the most cultiness. #Amulcheese is a trending hashtag with close to 2,500 posts. And then there are these ads, in which a reserved boy eats a slice of Amul cheese before a big game/when he is about to perform on stage/when he finds a monster in his closet—and he somehow gains cheese-powered super-confidence. People love them.

Imagine the super-confidence that awaits you.

Amul cheese is a hard, canned cheese that tastes like cheddar with a plot twist. It’s got a familiar buttery flavor, but it’s slightly sour. It’s hard but pliable, melts beautifully, and is saltier than you’d expect. Because it’s canned and packed with who knows how many preservatives, it will last forever. I distinctly remember when my dad would stockpile cans and cans of Amul cheese at the top of our pantry, and those would last us for the year. Our favorite way to eat it was grating and then melting it onto tomato toast, with a sprinkling of chaat masala, which brought out all of Amul cheese’s wonderfully weird flavors. In my cookbook, the tomato-cheese toast recipe calls for cheddar, because Amul cheese isn’t widely available—but if you really want to eat the dish as the Krishnas do, you should order a can online. Once you’ve had a grilled cheese made with Amul cheese, the American cheese version will forever taste bland and boring.

Beyond the taste, the cult of Amul cheese has mainly to do with the nostalgia that it carries. Like Maggi noodles, India’s Instant ramen of choice, or Parle-G cookies, our preferred tea accompaniment, Amul cheese takes Indians of multiple generations back to their childhoods. My dad always told me that Amul cheese, more than anything else, tasted like India to him. To me, it tastes like being at my parents’ house in Texas.

Because it’s such a home pantry staple, I’ve been surprised to see the cheese in dishes at popular Indian restaurants: mixed with chilies and stuffed in naan at Adda in Long Island City, in a grilled cheese with mint chutney at USHA foods in Queens, and in a chicken-chutney sandwich at Pondicheri, in Houston and New York.

Chintan Pandya, the chef of Adda, told me that he first tried Amul cheese when he was 9 or 10—it was a luxury to his family, something that he was only able to eat on special occasions. “I still crave the taste of it. Every other cheese, despite the best of taste and ingredients, just feels a bit cerebral.”

Last year, he says there was a shortage of Amul cheese in New York and New Jersey. “I ended up personally driving to stores in Philadelphia to pick up as much Amul cheese as I could,” he says. “My chefs recommended that I use cheddar, but I would not do it as I felt it would be affecting the integrity of the Indian dish.”

Similarly, Anita Jaisinghani, the chef of Pondicheri, grew up in India with Amul as the only cheese available in stores. She calls it her “secret weapon” in her restaurants. “It has a creamy, intense flavor that is like none other,” she says. “And this is from a person who eats almost nothing processed.”

Amul cheese’s success is somewhat improbable. Here’s an almost completely artificial food that has depth and complexity, that’s beloved by Indians alike (even chefs!), and that I would take over cheddar any day of the week. I am fully aware of its flaws, but I love it so much anyway. Unlike most other things in my life, I accept Amul cheese for exactly what it is. And there’s something pretty wonderful about that.


I Accept Amul Cheese Exactly As It Is: Canned, Processed, and Perfect

Before you lambast me about being a cheese snob, hear me out: the reason I dislike American cheese has nothing to do with the fact that it’s processed. Quite the contrary. I don’t care for American cheese because I grew up with a processed cheese that is far superior. Allow me to introduce you to Amul cheese, India’s greatest dairy product to ever come from a can.

Amul, an Indian dairy company based in Gujarat, specializes is butter, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese made using milk from Indian buffalos, which lends a very specific flavor—it’s richer, a little nuttier, a little funkier. It started in 1948 as a dairy cooperative meant to help bring milk products to smaller cities in response to a monopoly created by a company called Polson. Many of the people Amul was selling to didn’t have access to refrigeration, so shelf-stable, long-lasting products were developed, like the cheese (its official shelf life is nine months). People in India are crazy loyal to Amul products, but it’s that cheese that inspires by far the most cultiness. #Amulcheese is a trending hashtag with close to 2,500 posts. And then there are these ads, in which a reserved boy eats a slice of Amul cheese before a big game/when he is about to perform on stage/when he finds a monster in his closet—and he somehow gains cheese-powered super-confidence. People love them.

Imagine the super-confidence that awaits you.

Amul cheese is a hard, canned cheese that tastes like cheddar with a plot twist. It’s got a familiar buttery flavor, but it’s slightly sour. It’s hard but pliable, melts beautifully, and is saltier than you’d expect. Because it’s canned and packed with who knows how many preservatives, it will last forever. I distinctly remember when my dad would stockpile cans and cans of Amul cheese at the top of our pantry, and those would last us for the year. Our favorite way to eat it was grating and then melting it onto tomato toast, with a sprinkling of chaat masala, which brought out all of Amul cheese’s wonderfully weird flavors. In my cookbook, the tomato-cheese toast recipe calls for cheddar, because Amul cheese isn’t widely available—but if you really want to eat the dish as the Krishnas do, you should order a can online. Once you’ve had a grilled cheese made with Amul cheese, the American cheese version will forever taste bland and boring.

Beyond the taste, the cult of Amul cheese has mainly to do with the nostalgia that it carries. Like Maggi noodles, India’s Instant ramen of choice, or Parle-G cookies, our preferred tea accompaniment, Amul cheese takes Indians of multiple generations back to their childhoods. My dad always told me that Amul cheese, more than anything else, tasted like India to him. To me, it tastes like being at my parents’ house in Texas.

Because it’s such a home pantry staple, I’ve been surprised to see the cheese in dishes at popular Indian restaurants: mixed with chilies and stuffed in naan at Adda in Long Island City, in a grilled cheese with mint chutney at USHA foods in Queens, and in a chicken-chutney sandwich at Pondicheri, in Houston and New York.

Chintan Pandya, the chef of Adda, told me that he first tried Amul cheese when he was 9 or 10—it was a luxury to his family, something that he was only able to eat on special occasions. “I still crave the taste of it. Every other cheese, despite the best of taste and ingredients, just feels a bit cerebral.”

Last year, he says there was a shortage of Amul cheese in New York and New Jersey. “I ended up personally driving to stores in Philadelphia to pick up as much Amul cheese as I could,” he says. “My chefs recommended that I use cheddar, but I would not do it as I felt it would be affecting the integrity of the Indian dish.”

Similarly, Anita Jaisinghani, the chef of Pondicheri, grew up in India with Amul as the only cheese available in stores. She calls it her “secret weapon” in her restaurants. “It has a creamy, intense flavor that is like none other,” she says. “And this is from a person who eats almost nothing processed.”

Amul cheese’s success is somewhat improbable. Here’s an almost completely artificial food that has depth and complexity, that’s beloved by Indians alike (even chefs!), and that I would take over cheddar any day of the week. I am fully aware of its flaws, but I love it so much anyway. Unlike most other things in my life, I accept Amul cheese for exactly what it is. And there’s something pretty wonderful about that.


I Accept Amul Cheese Exactly As It Is: Canned, Processed, and Perfect

Before you lambast me about being a cheese snob, hear me out: the reason I dislike American cheese has nothing to do with the fact that it’s processed. Quite the contrary. I don’t care for American cheese because I grew up with a processed cheese that is far superior. Allow me to introduce you to Amul cheese, India’s greatest dairy product to ever come from a can.

Amul, an Indian dairy company based in Gujarat, specializes is butter, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese made using milk from Indian buffalos, which lends a very specific flavor—it’s richer, a little nuttier, a little funkier. It started in 1948 as a dairy cooperative meant to help bring milk products to smaller cities in response to a monopoly created by a company called Polson. Many of the people Amul was selling to didn’t have access to refrigeration, so shelf-stable, long-lasting products were developed, like the cheese (its official shelf life is nine months). People in India are crazy loyal to Amul products, but it’s that cheese that inspires by far the most cultiness. #Amulcheese is a trending hashtag with close to 2,500 posts. And then there are these ads, in which a reserved boy eats a slice of Amul cheese before a big game/when he is about to perform on stage/when he finds a monster in his closet—and he somehow gains cheese-powered super-confidence. People love them.

Imagine the super-confidence that awaits you.

Amul cheese is a hard, canned cheese that tastes like cheddar with a plot twist. It’s got a familiar buttery flavor, but it’s slightly sour. It’s hard but pliable, melts beautifully, and is saltier than you’d expect. Because it’s canned and packed with who knows how many preservatives, it will last forever. I distinctly remember when my dad would stockpile cans and cans of Amul cheese at the top of our pantry, and those would last us for the year. Our favorite way to eat it was grating and then melting it onto tomato toast, with a sprinkling of chaat masala, which brought out all of Amul cheese’s wonderfully weird flavors. In my cookbook, the tomato-cheese toast recipe calls for cheddar, because Amul cheese isn’t widely available—but if you really want to eat the dish as the Krishnas do, you should order a can online. Once you’ve had a grilled cheese made with Amul cheese, the American cheese version will forever taste bland and boring.

Beyond the taste, the cult of Amul cheese has mainly to do with the nostalgia that it carries. Like Maggi noodles, India’s Instant ramen of choice, or Parle-G cookies, our preferred tea accompaniment, Amul cheese takes Indians of multiple generations back to their childhoods. My dad always told me that Amul cheese, more than anything else, tasted like India to him. To me, it tastes like being at my parents’ house in Texas.

Because it’s such a home pantry staple, I’ve been surprised to see the cheese in dishes at popular Indian restaurants: mixed with chilies and stuffed in naan at Adda in Long Island City, in a grilled cheese with mint chutney at USHA foods in Queens, and in a chicken-chutney sandwich at Pondicheri, in Houston and New York.

Chintan Pandya, the chef of Adda, told me that he first tried Amul cheese when he was 9 or 10—it was a luxury to his family, something that he was only able to eat on special occasions. “I still crave the taste of it. Every other cheese, despite the best of taste and ingredients, just feels a bit cerebral.”

Last year, he says there was a shortage of Amul cheese in New York and New Jersey. “I ended up personally driving to stores in Philadelphia to pick up as much Amul cheese as I could,” he says. “My chefs recommended that I use cheddar, but I would not do it as I felt it would be affecting the integrity of the Indian dish.”

Similarly, Anita Jaisinghani, the chef of Pondicheri, grew up in India with Amul as the only cheese available in stores. She calls it her “secret weapon” in her restaurants. “It has a creamy, intense flavor that is like none other,” she says. “And this is from a person who eats almost nothing processed.”

Amul cheese’s success is somewhat improbable. Here’s an almost completely artificial food that has depth and complexity, that’s beloved by Indians alike (even chefs!), and that I would take over cheddar any day of the week. I am fully aware of its flaws, but I love it so much anyway. Unlike most other things in my life, I accept Amul cheese for exactly what it is. And there’s something pretty wonderful about that.


I Accept Amul Cheese Exactly As It Is: Canned, Processed, and Perfect

Before you lambast me about being a cheese snob, hear me out: the reason I dislike American cheese has nothing to do with the fact that it’s processed. Quite the contrary. I don’t care for American cheese because I grew up with a processed cheese that is far superior. Allow me to introduce you to Amul cheese, India’s greatest dairy product to ever come from a can.

Amul, an Indian dairy company based in Gujarat, specializes is butter, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese made using milk from Indian buffalos, which lends a very specific flavor—it’s richer, a little nuttier, a little funkier. It started in 1948 as a dairy cooperative meant to help bring milk products to smaller cities in response to a monopoly created by a company called Polson. Many of the people Amul was selling to didn’t have access to refrigeration, so shelf-stable, long-lasting products were developed, like the cheese (its official shelf life is nine months). People in India are crazy loyal to Amul products, but it’s that cheese that inspires by far the most cultiness. #Amulcheese is a trending hashtag with close to 2,500 posts. And then there are these ads, in which a reserved boy eats a slice of Amul cheese before a big game/when he is about to perform on stage/when he finds a monster in his closet—and he somehow gains cheese-powered super-confidence. People love them.

Imagine the super-confidence that awaits you.

Amul cheese is a hard, canned cheese that tastes like cheddar with a plot twist. It’s got a familiar buttery flavor, but it’s slightly sour. It’s hard but pliable, melts beautifully, and is saltier than you’d expect. Because it’s canned and packed with who knows how many preservatives, it will last forever. I distinctly remember when my dad would stockpile cans and cans of Amul cheese at the top of our pantry, and those would last us for the year. Our favorite way to eat it was grating and then melting it onto tomato toast, with a sprinkling of chaat masala, which brought out all of Amul cheese’s wonderfully weird flavors. In my cookbook, the tomato-cheese toast recipe calls for cheddar, because Amul cheese isn’t widely available—but if you really want to eat the dish as the Krishnas do, you should order a can online. Once you’ve had a grilled cheese made with Amul cheese, the American cheese version will forever taste bland and boring.

Beyond the taste, the cult of Amul cheese has mainly to do with the nostalgia that it carries. Like Maggi noodles, India’s Instant ramen of choice, or Parle-G cookies, our preferred tea accompaniment, Amul cheese takes Indians of multiple generations back to their childhoods. My dad always told me that Amul cheese, more than anything else, tasted like India to him. To me, it tastes like being at my parents’ house in Texas.

Because it’s such a home pantry staple, I’ve been surprised to see the cheese in dishes at popular Indian restaurants: mixed with chilies and stuffed in naan at Adda in Long Island City, in a grilled cheese with mint chutney at USHA foods in Queens, and in a chicken-chutney sandwich at Pondicheri, in Houston and New York.

Chintan Pandya, the chef of Adda, told me that he first tried Amul cheese when he was 9 or 10—it was a luxury to his family, something that he was only able to eat on special occasions. “I still crave the taste of it. Every other cheese, despite the best of taste and ingredients, just feels a bit cerebral.”

Last year, he says there was a shortage of Amul cheese in New York and New Jersey. “I ended up personally driving to stores in Philadelphia to pick up as much Amul cheese as I could,” he says. “My chefs recommended that I use cheddar, but I would not do it as I felt it would be affecting the integrity of the Indian dish.”

Similarly, Anita Jaisinghani, the chef of Pondicheri, grew up in India with Amul as the only cheese available in stores. She calls it her “secret weapon” in her restaurants. “It has a creamy, intense flavor that is like none other,” she says. “And this is from a person who eats almost nothing processed.”

Amul cheese’s success is somewhat improbable. Here’s an almost completely artificial food that has depth and complexity, that’s beloved by Indians alike (even chefs!), and that I would take over cheddar any day of the week. I am fully aware of its flaws, but I love it so much anyway. Unlike most other things in my life, I accept Amul cheese for exactly what it is. And there’s something pretty wonderful about that.


I Accept Amul Cheese Exactly As It Is: Canned, Processed, and Perfect

Before you lambast me about being a cheese snob, hear me out: the reason I dislike American cheese has nothing to do with the fact that it’s processed. Quite the contrary. I don’t care for American cheese because I grew up with a processed cheese that is far superior. Allow me to introduce you to Amul cheese, India’s greatest dairy product to ever come from a can.

Amul, an Indian dairy company based in Gujarat, specializes is butter, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese made using milk from Indian buffalos, which lends a very specific flavor—it’s richer, a little nuttier, a little funkier. It started in 1948 as a dairy cooperative meant to help bring milk products to smaller cities in response to a monopoly created by a company called Polson. Many of the people Amul was selling to didn’t have access to refrigeration, so shelf-stable, long-lasting products were developed, like the cheese (its official shelf life is nine months). People in India are crazy loyal to Amul products, but it’s that cheese that inspires by far the most cultiness. #Amulcheese is a trending hashtag with close to 2,500 posts. And then there are these ads, in which a reserved boy eats a slice of Amul cheese before a big game/when he is about to perform on stage/when he finds a monster in his closet—and he somehow gains cheese-powered super-confidence. People love them.

Imagine the super-confidence that awaits you.

Amul cheese is a hard, canned cheese that tastes like cheddar with a plot twist. It’s got a familiar buttery flavor, but it’s slightly sour. It’s hard but pliable, melts beautifully, and is saltier than you’d expect. Because it’s canned and packed with who knows how many preservatives, it will last forever. I distinctly remember when my dad would stockpile cans and cans of Amul cheese at the top of our pantry, and those would last us for the year. Our favorite way to eat it was grating and then melting it onto tomato toast, with a sprinkling of chaat masala, which brought out all of Amul cheese’s wonderfully weird flavors. In my cookbook, the tomato-cheese toast recipe calls for cheddar, because Amul cheese isn’t widely available—but if you really want to eat the dish as the Krishnas do, you should order a can online. Once you’ve had a grilled cheese made with Amul cheese, the American cheese version will forever taste bland and boring.

Beyond the taste, the cult of Amul cheese has mainly to do with the nostalgia that it carries. Like Maggi noodles, India’s Instant ramen of choice, or Parle-G cookies, our preferred tea accompaniment, Amul cheese takes Indians of multiple generations back to their childhoods. My dad always told me that Amul cheese, more than anything else, tasted like India to him. To me, it tastes like being at my parents’ house in Texas.

Because it’s such a home pantry staple, I’ve been surprised to see the cheese in dishes at popular Indian restaurants: mixed with chilies and stuffed in naan at Adda in Long Island City, in a grilled cheese with mint chutney at USHA foods in Queens, and in a chicken-chutney sandwich at Pondicheri, in Houston and New York.

Chintan Pandya, the chef of Adda, told me that he first tried Amul cheese when he was 9 or 10—it was a luxury to his family, something that he was only able to eat on special occasions. “I still crave the taste of it. Every other cheese, despite the best of taste and ingredients, just feels a bit cerebral.”

Last year, he says there was a shortage of Amul cheese in New York and New Jersey. “I ended up personally driving to stores in Philadelphia to pick up as much Amul cheese as I could,” he says. “My chefs recommended that I use cheddar, but I would not do it as I felt it would be affecting the integrity of the Indian dish.”

Similarly, Anita Jaisinghani, the chef of Pondicheri, grew up in India with Amul as the only cheese available in stores. She calls it her “secret weapon” in her restaurants. “It has a creamy, intense flavor that is like none other,” she says. “And this is from a person who eats almost nothing processed.”

Amul cheese’s success is somewhat improbable. Here’s an almost completely artificial food that has depth and complexity, that’s beloved by Indians alike (even chefs!), and that I would take over cheddar any day of the week. I am fully aware of its flaws, but I love it so much anyway. Unlike most other things in my life, I accept Amul cheese for exactly what it is. And there’s something pretty wonderful about that.