Where Does Domiati Cheese Come From?
Where does Domiati cheese come from? The cheese is called Domiati cheese, which signifies the city where it comes from, but there are many things about this cheese-other than its origin- that are also interesting to discuss.
What Is Domiati Cheese and Where Does It Come from?
Domiati or Dumyati cheese is an Egyptian cheese that is originally made in the Egyptian City of Damietta, hence its name. Besides its primary aboriginal name, there are some other popular names with which this cheese is called, including jibna or gebna baida, which refers to its white color, and gebna tariya, which refers to its soft texture. Domiati cheese is indeed well-known for its white color and soft texture.
There are several popular types of cheese in Egypt, such as Instanboly, Rumi, and Areesh; however, Domiati cheese is considered the most popular cheese in Egypt that three out of four Egyptians actually serve this cheese in their daily meals.
Domiati cheese has been becoming Damietta’s prized cuisine since more than two millennia ago. In the ancient time, Egyptian cheeses were made from all kinds of milk, including the milk of goat, sheep, buffalo, and cow. In the later periods, the use of goat’s milk and sheep’s milk has declined so sharply that today, only the milk of buffaloes and cows is used for making cheeses.
Domiati cheese is always considered a popular food for both Damietta residents and visitors who happen to visit this city. Domiati cheese is currently available not only in Damietta but also in nearly all places in Egypt as well as in the Middle East.
Although Egyptian cheese is actually made in virtually all parts of the country, the city of Damietta that is located on the Mediterranean Coast is considered the Egyptian center of cheesemaking because of its large population of healthy water buffaloes. The Khaysiyya cows, whose milk is known as the primary ingredient for the famous Khaysi cheese, are also grown in a large number in this coastal district.
Although considered a unique Egyptian cheese, it actually shares some similar characteristics with other cheeses, especially the Greek feta cheese in that both kinds of cheese are made using a large amount of salt. The only exception is that Domiati cheese feels springier and softer than the crumbly feta cheese.
So, where does Domiati cheese come from? This cheese is native to Damietta and—although it shares many similar characteristics with both Egyptian and non-Egyptian cheeses—it is still a unique cheese that is considered the most popular not only in Egypt but also in the Middle East and the Mediterranean regions.
How to Make Domiati Cheese?
The primary ingredient of the modern-day Domiati cheese is buffalo’s milk or cow’s milk, although buffalo’s milk has been less frequently used lately, leaving only cow’s milk as the most preferred ingredient for Domiati cheese. Other ingredients that are also considered necessary include salt and rennet. Domiati cheese has long been made using traditional method; however, since about three decades ago, large factories have been established to increase the production volume, to meet the higher demand of this cheese, and to reduce import.
The production process begins with the preparation of the milk. Although pasteurization is generally performed in the modern time to sterilize the milk, traditionally, pasteurization is not performed when making Domiati cheese. So, it is an optional procedure that becomes preferred nowadays.
A precise amount of salt is then added to the milk. The amount of the added salt will determine the type of Domiati cheese at the end of the production process. The amount usually ranges from five to fifteen percent of the entire mixture. The salted milk is then heated at about 80-degree to 100-degree C. After being heated for a while, the heated milk mixture is then mixed into two parts of unsalted milk. Thermophilic culture and rennet are then added to coagulate the mixture.
The coagulated cheese will start to form on the top of the mixture. This coagulated form is then scooped and put into rectangular or cylindrical molds that are already lined with cheesecloth. The cheese is then wrapped with the cloth and then pressed to drain the liquid from the cheese. The drainage process takes a long time to finish and the temperature degree is raised to about 40-degree C to expedite the drying process. The finished cheese may be brined or stored in a salted whey to preserve it. Generally, Domiati cheese can be stored and remain edible for up to eight months.
Some modifications may be performed during the production process to enhance the look and the taste of the cheese. In addition to the precise measurement of salt to determine the sharpness of the cheese’s taste, the fat of the cow’s milk may be removed and replaced with vegetable oil both to cut the production cost and to enhance the whiteness of the cheese. These modifications, however, should not change the taste and the look of the cheese too significantly because customers still prefer to get Domiati cheese with its original taste and look.
Serving Domiati Cheese
Domiati cheese can be eaten immediately without cooking it first, served alone after being cooked, or served together with other dishes. The cooking procedure that is commonly used to process this cheese when served alone is frying. Fried Domiati cheese (gebna maqleya) is considered a popular cuisine in all places where Domiati cheese becomes a staple. Fried cheese is prepared by frying the cheese after being mixed with egg and flour.
Domiati cheese can also be served with other dishes. During the breakfast, Egyptians often serve Domiati cheese together with bread, jams, and olive. It is also possible to serve this cheese together with meaty foods. For lacto-vegetarians, cooking this cheese together with tomatoes and cucumbers is considered a preferred way to serve Domiati cheese.
Where does Domiati cheese come from? The name itself already explains the origin of this cheese; however, instead of focusing only on its origin, you may need to look into other interesting things about Domiati cheese that may encourage you to try this cheese yourself.