Butter’s origins are quite humble. Legends have it that a nomad made the first butter by accident. He probably tied a bag of milk to his horse and after a day of jostling, realized that churned milk fat solidifies into something truly amazing.
CURRYSOME FACT: Butter was once churned by horses on a treadmill
While our Hindu mythology talks about offering Lord Krishna tins full of makkhan, atleast 3,000 years ago, some of the earliest records of butter consumption come from Rome & Arabia. In the 12th century northern Europe, the butter business was booming and many Scandinavian merchants exported tremendous amounts each year, making the spread a central part of their economy.
CURRYSOME FACT: Butter was such an essential part of Norwegian life, that the King demanded a full bucket every year as a tax.
Meanwhile in India,
Barring Lord Krishna’s indulgence, fresh butter itself was little used in India until the British arrived. Only a handful of dairies were making it in Calcutta (now called ‘Kolkata’) until the army decided to serve butter to its battalions and hence set up Military Dairy Farms across India.
But how did it reach the civilians?
It was Polson’s coffee in Bombay (now Mumbai), started by a young Parsi – Pestonji Edulji Dalal in 1888, that became very famous with the Brits. From one of his visitors he learnt that the army faced shortage of butter, and decided to explore the opportunity.
By 1930 Polson’s was dominating India’s butter business however, Polson always made butter from stale cream. When Amul’s Verghese Kurien got to know this, he was determined to make Amul butter only of fresh cream.
But what happened next shocked Amul.
The butter made from fresh cream bombed in the market, people felt it tasted flat and flavourless, and preferred the Polson’s butter made from stale cream. Yeah! You read it right.
So what did Amul do? Do they use stale cream? Nope…well, that’s a story we’ll share on our next blog.