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Paneer October 12, 2009

Posted by butterandbacon in Uncategorized.

Paneer is a soft, non-matured cheese. I’m not sure where it was invented, but it’s very popular in Indian food. It’s really really good!
The thing is, the commercially available variety (pretty rare here in SA) is very different from the stuff people make at home.
I once had an awesome paneer curry at Bismillah in Joburg. The cheese was soft, creamy, and squeaky! Nothing else like it at all. Wish I knew how to make squeaky paneer at home. My Friend Mirabelle tells me that using tartaric acid instead of lemon juice produces a more squeaky cheese, as does extensive pressing. The home-made stuff tends to be more like a slab of cottage cheese, but it is really good. It can be cubed and added to curry as a good source of protein, marinated and fried like a steak (an idea I stole from a Hare Krishna cookbook by Kurma Dasa), or used as cottage cheese would be.
To make paneer, you will need:
2l milk, full cream
lemon juice or yoghurt
a fine cheesecloth
a colander,
a large pot
heavy things

Heat the milk in the pot. You can add some cream for a richer paneer, but it’s not essential. When the milk starts to boil, add lemon juice or yoghurt one tablespoon at a time, until the milk starts to curdle. Remove from the heat, and add more lemon juice or yoghurt until the milk has separated into curds and whey. The whey should be almost completely clear, and slightly green.
Line the colander with cheesecloth, and pour in the contents of the pot slowly and carefully.
Apparently the whey can be saved as a nutritious addition to soups and stocks, but i’m too scared to cook with a murky green fluid.
Let the curds drain for a few minutes, until you’re left with a bowl of white mush. Run some fresh water through it to rinse out the excess whey, and drain for a few more minutes. Pick up the cheesecloth package, and twist it shut, squeezing out the excess liquid.
Fold the cheesecloth into a neat rectangular package, and put back in the colander, or on the draining board of your kitchen sink.
Place a large plate on top of it, face down, and stack heavy objects on top. The idea is to press out the whey, producing a solid block of soft white cheese. After 3 hours or so, the paneer should be ready. Unwrap it, and do with it what you will.
For the best idea of all, try paneer makhani curry. It is the most awesome paneer curry in the universe!



1. Trysh Ashby-Rolls - March 2, 2010

I adore paneer but have only eaten it in India and never made it myself. Can’t wait to try, it doesn’t look too difficult. One question: When you say I need ‘heavy things’ would my husband do?
Pender Island, BC

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