For centuries, pastoral communities and cheesemakers across the region, from the highlands of Nepal to the tropical lowlands of Indonesia, have been making cheese using local ingredients and age-old methods.


A staple in the Indonesian region of Enrekang in South Sulawesi, dangke is a semi-soft cheese made with fresh buffalo or cow milk, coagulated with a few potent drops of papain – an enzyme present in unripe papayas.

Some cheesemakers brine the curd overnight to add a salty, savoury tinge to the crumbly, mild-flavoured cheese.

The curd is then drained and transferred into a mould of coconut shells split in two, and left to cool before being wrapped in banana leaves.

Dangke can be eaten as is, or with pulu mondoti, an aromatic, glutinous rice native to Enrekang.

Locals also marinate dangke with garlic and coriander then grill or pan-fry it, or savour this cheese with white rice and stingingly spicy sambal terasi (shrimp and chilli paste).

Dali ni horbo

The indigenous Batak of Tapanuli in North Sumatra have been making dali ni horbo for centuries.

To make this cheese, a combination of papaya leaf and pineapple juice is added to simmering buffalo milk to produce curd. Nowadays, extract from the agave plant – introduced from Mexico in 1913 – is commonly used as well.

This soft, white, creamy cheese is the star of arsik, a rich, flavourful curry with a base of aromatics including lemongrass, candlenut, galangal, chillies, turmeric and andaliman pepper.

Kesong puti

Crafted from fresh, unskimmed water buffalo milk, kesong puti is a Filipino soft cheese coagulated usually with rennet, although cane vinegar or calamansi is also used.

The milk curd is then wrapped in banana leaves, lending it a herbaceous hint, and chilled for 30 minutes to form a smooth, delicate cheese.

Filipinos savour this mildly salty and tart cheese sandwiched inside warm, fluffy pandesal fresh from the oven and a hot cup of tsokolate.

This iconic cheese is so popular, there’s even an annual Kesong Puti Festival celebrated in the province of Laguna, said to be home of this traditional Pinoy delicacy.

According to