Paneer (pronounced – “Pun – knee -r”) is one of the mainstays of North Indian cooking. I hated it with a vengeance when I was growing up. While my siblings would perk up every time my mom mentioned that we were having a paneer dish for dinner, it would at best elicit a groan from me.
However preferences change over the years and I now enjoy Paneer.
Note: Interesting article on tastes changing http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1305655/why_do_our_tastes_change_as_we_age.html?cat=5
You can go to an Indian grocery store or a natural food store and buy Paneer. But to me it just isn’t a good product. It is usually hard and tastes processed. And it is expensive (yes, I conform to the stereotype of a cheap Indian). Long story short, I started making my own a few years back and haven’t gone back to the store bought variety. Considering how easy it is to make, I hope you too will too, if you don’t already.
Anyway, here goes.
INGREDIENTS (for about 8oz of Paneer)
1/2 gallon of full fat milk – For some reason, Braum’s milk works exceptionally well. Must be the Oklahoma cows.
Lemon juice (from a bottle or a real lemon) or white vinegar
Cheesecloth or Muslin
8 or 10 lb dumbbell (or any other weight) to work out while you are waiting for the cheese to make. Just kidding.You will need the weight though to squeeze out water from the cheese.
Two chopping boards
1. Boil the milk
2. Once the milk comes to a rolling boil, reduce heat.
3. Add lemon juice or vinegar a little at a time (about a teaspoon at a time). If you are using real lemons, just squeeze them a quarter at a time.
4. Wait for the milk to curdle. It should separate into a greenish liquid(whey) and white curds (see picture below).
5. Turn the heat off and strain the whey through a cheesecloth or muslin.
6. You should have a pouch of the curdled milk now.This is Paneer (see below).
7. Hang the pouch to let the whey drain out. Leave it for 10 mins.
8. Squeeze out more whey from the pouch. Twist the open ends of the cheesecloth/muslin.
9. Put the pouch between the two chopping boards and weigh it down with the dumbbell. This dumbbell probably got more use out of it today than it has in months.
10. Wait for 15 mins to let the water out.
11. Open the pouch. Your Paneer is ready.
12. Chill in the fridge for a few hours to let it firm up a little before you use it.