Munchies with beer. Cheese with wine. A nut-mix with your whiskey. In olden days people often drank wine with food because it was more sanitary. While the quality of water has improved somewhat over the years, what we have realized is that food and alcohol can be complementary and increase enjoyment of both when done right.
One such pairing was one I encountered when we had got together with some friends recently. We had wine with some English Cheddar soaked in Porter (Side note: IMHO, if there is one thing the English do well it is Cheese. English Cheddar and Stilton are two of my favorites.). That cheese was incredible. Definitely try it if you can. Got me thinking what I could do with Paneer . There were plenty of flavored cheeses around but cheese had the advantage of aging over Paneer. When you age the cheese you have the luxury of time to infuse flavors in it. Paneer on the other hand is a fresh cheese and will go rancid pretty quickly. So the trick is to use spices/flavoring that is ready to go and would not require aging. I did a quick search on the Internet and didn’t find much but I did find Bonappegeek where the author mentioned adding salt to the Paneer, something that I had not considered this far but that incorporated into my trial.
For my experiment, I made three batc
hes of Paneer: plain, flavored with red chili powder and sea salt, and with roasted, ground cumin and sea salt.
The verdict? The one with cumin and salt is a keeper. It tastes great by itself and would make a great accompaniment to wine and beer with a little bit of lemon juice and salt. You can also use it in kababs and make pakoras with it. Heck, you should be able to use it in just about anything including Indian curries. It was pretty awesome.
The one with the red chili powder and salt was a bit more restrained and bland. I held back on adding too much because I didn’t want to overpower the Paneer with the chili powder but perhaps I should have used a little more. Oh well. There’s always a next time.
I hope you experiment with this and share your results. I think using basil and rosemary with some jalapeno might be good to try as well. Enjoy!