Saturday, April 25, 2015

Homemade Paneer


When cooking Indian curries, your sides are almost as important as your main dish. Good basmatti and nan are so important to the eating experience, and if you're opting for a vegetarian curry, well prepared paneer cheese is a great substitute for chicken or lamb.


Paneer Cheese is a soft cheese that has a high melting point. You can put it into your curry and have it stay in solid form if made correctly. Depending on the milk you use it has a very mild flavour and is a great substitute when you want a vegetarian curry.

Paneer is so easy to prepare at home. If you find yourself not wanting to run out to the store to buy pre-made food, here's how you can make it yourself from scratch.

Recipe for Paneer (Makes about 2 cups of cheese)

Ingredients:
  • 8 cups of whole milk
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice (about 1 whole lemon squeezed if you want fresh juice)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
Directions:

1) Over medium-high heat, heat the milk in a large pot until the milk becomes frothy and steamy (about 10 minutes). Make sure to stir and scrape the bottom of the pan every so often to keep the milk from burning on the bottom


2) When the milk is frothy and steamy (check the above picture for reference) remove from heat and pour in your lemon juice. It should start to curdle almost immediately and you'll start to see the cheese curds rise to the top. Give it a stir and then cover with pot lid. Set aside for 10 minutes.



3) Once you've let your milk sit, it's time to strain out the cheese curds. Grab a colander and place it in a bowl. If you have cheese cloth, line the colander with it. If like me, you don't have cheese cloth... coffee filters will do in a pinch! Using a slotted spoon remove the curds and pour over the cloth in small batches. pick it up inside the cloth and squeeze gently to remove the excess water and then place to the side in a bowl (which i also lined with coffee filters). Repeat this process until you've removed all the curds.


4) Sprinkle your curds with salt and stir. You might want to use a little more or less salt than i suggested based on preference, but I fin 1/2 tsp is perfect.


5) Grab a plate and a large piece of saran wrap (double the size of the plate) cover with fresh cheese cloth (coffee filters) and place your cheese curds on top in an even layer. Then wrap up tightly in the saran wrap. Place a second place on top of the cheese to compress the curds together and place in the fridge. Throw a few condiment jars on top to keep it properly weighed down.


Put the plate in the fridge for about 30 minutes then remove the top plate. You can cut up your cheese and store in the fridge or use right away! 


Paneer is nice and mild so if you have any leftover from dinner... It makes an excellent breakfast with bread, honey, olives and coffee!



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