Ayodhya Nath Kerni
In the remote areas and hilly terrain of district Udhampur there were no transport facilities. There was no Jammu- Srinagar National highway prior to first quarter of 20th century. There were no ways and means to supply milk to towns and cities. Population was less dense in the past and there were large number of cows and buffaloes kept in houses. There was no scarcity of fodder and sufficient grass was available for grazing the cattle in meadows. Milk available in each house was more than the family requirement but there were no resources of sale to the market.
May that be the reason to introduce a milk product indigenously known as ‘kalari’ by the forefathers. The traditional method of preparation of kalari do resemble with the paneer(cheese) only with a minor difference. While preparing paneer container of milk is put on heat and milk is got boiled then got split by putting a sour substance like lemon etc. Same is tied in a cloth and placed underneath a weight of stone. After two hours cheese is prepared and cut into pieces as per the requirement. As far as the preparation of kalari is concerned milk container is kept on heat for a little while to get it as lukewarm and remains of split milk known as ‘Mathar’ is poured into the milk. The milk is split and out of the released fat small tikkis are prepared manually. These tikkis say kalaris are laid over pine leaves and carefully kept in a basket to dry up and ripe in sunlight. As and when they dry up the kalaris are brought to market for sale.
Paneer is prepared at other places also in our country and even in other countries of the world. Paneer dates back to ancient India. Kalari is a new product and found in Jammu region only. Kalari prepared of cow milk when dried gives a light yellow look and seems very attractive. Kalari prepared with buffalo milk gives a white shade. Kalari prepared with goat milk is also white but inferior in taste as compared to cow milk kalari. Kalari can last long as compared to paneer. There is a decline in the quality of kalari these days owing to large demand. Kalaris are not allowed to completely dry up and brought for sale by the producers to near by shops keeping in view the weight considerations. In case kalaris are put to dry up completely; there is loss of weight but quality is improved. The producers fearing the loss in weight bring kalaris for sale so that they may get more money for a substandard item. The adulteration in preparing of kalaris can not be ruled out.
Kalari is roasted in a pan and salt is sprinkled over it before serving. The sandwich of kalari is also served. It is very tasty and a favourite dish of Jammuites. Kalari is presented in varied delicacies and is quite tempting. These days kalari has become a part of various snack stalls arranged in different parties and functions. Nutritional value of cow milk kalari per 100 gms is as under :-
Energy 412 KJ (98kcl) Iron 0.07 mg
Carbohydrates 3.38 gms Magnesium 8 mg
Suagar 2.67 gms Phosphorous 159 mg
Fat 4.30 gms Potassium 104 mg
Proteins 11.12 gms Sodium 3.64 mg
Vitamin A equiv 5% Zinc 0.40 mg
calcium 83 mg
Kalaris are available at the following places of district Udhampur:-
Ramnagar, Panchari, Chenani, Dharamthal, Samroli and at Udhampur itself. Now a days Gujjars in Pirpanjal Hills are also preparing and supplying kalari of buffalo milk which is white in look. The shops situated on National Highway e.g. Samroli, Dharamthal etc. are also keeping kalari for sale. One such shop is situated at Dharamthal 18 km away from Udhampur on the way to Patnitop. The shop is run by Sham Lal for last 20 years. He states that his sale of kalaris is approximate three quintals a day. The shop is located on National Highway and visitors passing through purchase kalaris from his shop. Most of the customers who come to visit Patnitop or Sudhmahadev purchase kalaris on their way back to Jammu. He says that he is maintaining good quality control and people like to purchase kalaris from his shop. Kalari is the most suitable item to be offered as gift to relatives and friends staying away from this area. It remained a usual practice to send kalaris as a gift item in the past.
There are half a dozen shops in Udhampur town who keep kalaris for sale. ‘Singh Cafeteria’ functioning for past many years is quite famous for sale of roasted kalaris. People love to visit this famous cafeteria located near Gole Market and like to enjoy Kalari along with a cup of tea. Kalari is a mouth-watering item and one could certainly develop cravings for it. We can witness large number of people visiting the cafeteria to enjoy kalari and chutney. The flavour and aroma of kalari would attract any person passing through the road outside cafeteria to enjoy fragrance and to eat atleast one kalari in Singh Cafeteria. Kalaris are also available in Jammu city and maximum kalaris are supplied by Udhampur only.
The climatic conditions of Udhampur district including far flung areas are most suitable for keeping desi variety of cows. Fodder in shape of natural green grass and leaves are available in the area free of cost to upkeep the cows. The farmers should be provided bank loans on liberal conditions to purchase cows. They should be rather encouraged to produce more milk and prepare kalaris so as to get good returns. The natural herbal grown in lush green pastures and grazed by cows improve the quality of milk vis a vis kalari. Kalaris prepared of cow milk are more attractive and tasty as well. Kalaris of cow milk can fetch desired price of the product. There is a heavy demand of kalaris in the market. The large scale production can improve the economy of farmers and equally it can satisfy the customers with quality product.
Ayodhya Nath Kerni