15
Mar
11

Paneer (Indian Cheese)

You might think making your own cheese is over the top. Trust me, it’s not. If you’re a curry addict like me, there comes a time every couple of weeks when you’re fixin’ for some paneer-based Indian food. Last Sunday was one of those days. I wanted saag paneer. Instead of driving 10 miles to the closest international market for paneer, I made my own.

Paneer is a mild-tasting cheese from southern Asia. It’s made from cow’s milk and a bit of acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice. One of the things that makes it so distinctive is its ability to hold its own under high heat. It can be cut into cubes, then fried or sauteed to a golden brown using a little oil and a skillet.

Making this is costs half the price of buying it. And it’s incredibly simple. You bring a gallon of milk to a boil, remove it from heat, add vinegar. Immediately, the curds begin to form. Line a colander with a tea towel. Pour the curdled milk into the towel to drain out the liquid.

Wait. Once the paneer is cool enough to touch, fold the towel over the cheese. Press down to push out more liquid. Put cans or a bowl filled with water on top of it and continue to drain. Presto. You’ve got paneer.

Homemade paneer is better. Seriously better. The texture and flavor are superior to anything that would have come boxed and wrapped in plastic. What to do with it? Paneer is absolutely delicious with curries made with peas, spinach or tomatoes. I’m serious when I say it’s good stuff. I’m still trying to find the perfect saag paneer (the one I posted last spring is very good, but still slightly lacking). Dinner Sunday night came close. But it was not quite there.

Paneer

1 gallon whole milk
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

In a large sauce pan, heat milk over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. When it comes to a boil, add vinegar and immediately remove from heat. The milk will begin to curdle. Wait about 30 seconds or however long it takes to separate. Line a colander with a tea towel (not a terry cloth towel) and allow edges of the towel to hang over the colander. Pour milk through the towel and allow to drain into the sink. Once it’s cool enough to touch, fold towel over the cheese and press down to remove more liquid. Put the colander into a bowl, and place canned vegetables or a bowl full of water on top to add more weight. Continue to drain for 2-3 more hours. Once most of the liquid is out, wrap the paneer in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Paneer will keep cold for about a week, or frozen for 3 months.

Makes about 1 pound.

 

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2 Responses to “Paneer (Indian Cheese)”


  1. 1 Colleen Rost-Banik
    March 16, 2011 at 3:14 am

    YAY for paneer!!!! Had no clue how to make it. You can bet that I’ll be making it now. And, I haven’t tried making saag paneer since a few years ago with you in St. Louis. We get enough greens each week with our farm share (though usually not spinach) that I might try making a different version of saag paneer. Let me know if you have any particular suggestions.

    Cheers & aloha,
    Colleen

    • March 16, 2011 at 10:22 am

      Aloha! I’ve tried a version Sunday using equal amounts of spinach and mustard greens. It was good — a little too bitter though. Next time I’ll put in more spinach than mustard. Chard would be just as good as spinach if you have access to it. Let me know! I miss you and Don mucho!


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