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Sounds gouda: 5 common cheeses and how to elevate them for dinner

Whether you’re a cheese board professional or just a cheese burger buff, there’s no denying there’s lots to love about the smelly stuff.

Yet whilst many of us eat cheese quite frequently, are you using cheese to its full potential in the kitchen? Here, we quizzed a few cheesemongers and chefs on the varieties of some of the most commonly-found cheeses, and the dishes they are best suited to. Dinner plans? Sorted.

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Salty and sharp, feta is the ultimate flavour booster. Crumbled on a salad – this cheese can give salad-avoiders a reason to sift through the greens. But feta is not just for Greek salad. This soft white cheese can lend creaminess and a sharp, salty punch to a variety of dishes that might otherwise be too simple or austere on their own. You can crumble it over soups, toss it with roasted vegetables and pastas, and use it in pies and galettes.

How to eat:

“You can warm some feta, drizzle honey and some caramelised walnut, and have it as a dessert. You can even bake it with onions and tomatoes at 200 degrees for 10 minutes and drizzle olive oil over to pair it with fresh flatbread,” says Nandini Sundaresan, founder and partner of Käse, an artisanal cheese brand from Chennai. Nothing pairs better than juicy watermelon and salty feta. 

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Just as you always have a bottle of wine on hand for unexpected company and meat in the freezer, it’s a good idea to have a sharp triangle of Parmesan in your cheese drawer. With its nutty, salty, and umami flavour Parmesan can make any savoury dish better flavoured.

How to eat:

“I love working with this rich, aromatic and versatile cheese. It works very well in a beef carpaccio or a creamy, comforting mushroom lasagna. A simple Napoli pizza with prosciutto and Parmigiano tastes beautiful,” says Daya Singh, chef at Mumbai’s CinCin. A generous helping of well-aged Parmigiano can add an extra layer of flavour to a simple and highly satisfying aglio e olio.

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There is nothing that a sprinkle or slice of mozzarella can’t fix. This silky, soft and mildly flavoured cheese is made by heating curds in water or whey until they form strings, then the curds are stretched, kneaded until smooth. This is why this ooey-gooey cheese is also known as string cheese. From saucy lasagna to the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich and creamy ratatouille, mozzarella is the cheese to turn to.

How to eat:

“Buffalo mozzarella on a freshly out of the oven pizza will give it a depth of flavour unmatched from any store-bought pizza,” says Dhvani Desai founder of Casa Del Cheese. A watermelon ceviche tossed with mint and balsamic vinegar and drizzled with mozzarella can be highly addictive.

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Savoury, sharp and always available, cheddar is the most versatile of the lot. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of cheeses. Sprinkled it atop a casserole, melt it into a dip, grate it into a delicious apple pie, sprinkle on nachos or spread on a warm burger – cheddar never disappoints.

How to eat:

Devilled eggs with a topping of mashed egg yolks, mayonnaise, crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar makes for a quick and scrumptious appetizer. Warm and gooey cheddar fondue along with your favourite bread, crisp green apples or potatoes makes a great centrepiece for a cosy date night.

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This creamy, delicate cheese encased in a soft, powdery-white edible rind is one of the most renowned French cheeses in the world. It is traditionally served with baguette or any crusty bread that won’t compete with the cheese.

How to eat:

Plain crackers are a convenient choice that won’t detract from the cheese. Of course, baked brie with a generous drizzle of honey or maple syrup is how you transform a good brie into a spectacular brie. When you cut through the rind and the inside comes pouring out like lava, you’ll forget all your troubles. Or alternately thread apple and brie cubes on a skewer and drizzle with caramel topping for a mind-blowing starter. And yes, you can eat the rind!

This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India and was first published on 13 April 2021.

Sounds gouda: 5 common cheeses and how to elevate them for dinner

Nivedita Jayaram Pawar

Pawar is a senior journalist based out of Mumbai. After spending nearly two decades as editor for various newspapers and magazines, she turned freelancer five years ago. Currently contributing travel and lifestyle stories to some of the leading publications in India and abroad, when not on board an airplane or furiously keying in to meet deadlines, she is likely gobbling up a Murakami novel or perfecting her yoga poses.

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