Spicy Paneer Cheese

Makes approx. 400g/14oz
1.5 litres/2¾ pints/6 cups full-fat (whole) milk
2–3 tablespoons Greek-style yoghurt, or 100ml/3½fl oz/½ cup buttermilk
or 2–3 tablespoons lemon juice
Seasonings (choose some or all of those below)
about 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2.5cm/1in fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper dried thyme, oregano or mint

This is a very easy cheese to make at home, and each time I try it, I vary the flavours. I first ate paneer at a vegetarian restaurant serving a mixture of foods from the north of India. The paneer takes the place of meat in a vegetarian diet, but I have also eaten it mixed with fish and shellfish in a spicy sauce, and it not only adds flavour and texture, it extends a more costly protein. Although delicious used in stir-fries and curries, paneer can also be crumbled on to pizzas and used in sandwiches.

The main points when making paneer are that you use whole milk and that you drain the curd thoroughly. The milk is heated, then a souring agent is added to form curds. I have given several options below. If using yoghurt or buttermilk, it may be necessary to heat the milk a little longer once they have been added, whereas the lemon juice works at once. A light vinegar, such as rice wine vinegar, can be used in place of lemon juice. Fresh herbs can be used, but I find I get a better result with dried.

Draining the paneer at first over a sieve then under a heavy weight is a very important stage, so do take time to do this. Only when all the whey has been pressed out will the cheese be firm enough to slice. Have ready a sieve or colander lined with a double layer of scalded muslin or cheesecloth. Place it over a bowl.

Heat the milk in a large saucepan. Once the milk is boiling add the yoghurt, buttermilk or lemon juice and stir. Add your seasonings. As soon as the mixture separates, forming curds and whey, remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into the prepared sieve. Allow as much whey to drain away as possible then gather up the corners of the muslin and make them into a sort of parcel.

Place this on a rack over a bowl or dish and then place a board on top, finished with a heavy weight. Place in a cool larder or fridge and leave for at least 1 hour. Once the cheese is dry, cut into cubes and store these in a jar or bowl of lightly salted water in a cold larder or the fridge for up to four days.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts