Deli Devi is a hidden gem located in the north western part of Koh Pha Ngan. This region of the island is known for its yoga retreats and healing centers, so after studying yoga and building a community and family here, it was only right for Jeromine Navi to open her plant-based cheese oasis. But Deli Devi doesn’t only serve her phenomenal cheeses, it also offers a few other rare finds.
“I was never seen as creative…” Jeromine recalls, but her interest in cooking started at a young age, “by six years old, I was helping my mom cook everything.” It’s no wonder why this became her creative outlet. After studying yoga on Koh Phangan, she decided to call the island home and this is where she started her own creative “temple.” But it had nothing to do with “art.”
Jeromine had tried many plant-based cheeses but they weren’t like the real thing. She almost gave up before she found a recipe about fermented cheeses. After trying out some recipes, she shared them with friends on the island and they loved them! From here, Deli Devi was born.
Deli, meaning delicacy, and Devi, which is Sanskrit for “goddess,” is Jeromine’s temple. Her imagination flows here, finding different ways to recreate some of her favorite dishes from her home in France, such as her plant-based “foie gras,” and “special deli,” another “meaty” spread inspired by a pork based dish back home. Her shop features these special delicacies (and more), but it is known for its array of plant-based cheeses and chocolates. “They’re the two biggest cravings in the world,” Jeromine explained. For anyone who follows a plant-based diet, you can probably agree that giving up cheese was one of the hardest parts of the transition, and it can also be difficult to get your hands on some delicious vegan chocolate. Jeromine’s creation don’t disappoint!
A lot of love and energy goes into making these plant-based cheeses. It starts with cashews, which are found abundantly throughout Thailand (check out my experience with harvesting cashews on the island of Koh Chang here), to make a paste. After this paste is made, the cheeses need to ferment at room temperature. They are then molded, sorted and placed in the fridge to ferment longer. The fermentation process can take anywhere from 24 hours (cream cheeses) to six weeks (harder and more aged cheeses) and they need to be flipped every other day.
When I stopped by Deli Devi, I was able to try Jeromine’s smoked cheese, parmesan, herb and garlic cream cheese, and camembert cheese as well as her “meat”loaf, foe grais, some chocolate and a butter that melts in your mouth. Jeromine also has a truffle cheese and is working on creating a bleu cheese and goat cheese.
The Future of Deli Devi
Jeromine’s passion for what she does shines through every area of her work. She is excited to give a tasting of her masterpieces to anyone who stops by Deli Devi (but watch your wallet because you may be walking out with 1,000 baht worth of cheeses!). Jeromine hopes to increase the production of her cheeses, chocolates and specialties and begin selling them to restaurants around the island and eventually to other places in Thailand like the mainland, Koh Samui and Bangkok. She also hopes to get more creative with her chocolates.
Needless to say, when I come back to Koh Pha Ngan for a yoga retreat, I will make Deli Devi my first stop!