Paneer is an Indian cheese that could be considered the gateway cheese to cheese making. It’s so easy and uses readily available ingredients, so if you are interested in trying cheese making, here’s a good one to start with.
This recipe comes from an old Indian cookbook I picked up in a discount bookstore about 15 years ago called Step by Step Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Louise Steele. It has some great recipes including the best Dal you’ll ever try.
2 1/2 quarts of whole milk
5 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed (optional)
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1) Bring the milk to a rolling boil in a large saucepan, stirring frequently
2) Take the milk off the heat and add the lemon juice. It will start to curdle almost instantly. Put it back on the heat for about a minute, until the curds separate from the whey.
3) At this point I deviate from the recipe. It says to line a colander with cheesecloth and pour in the mixture, then throw in the garlic and cilantro. I prefer to add garlic and cilantro to the pan and mix it in before pouring into cheesecloth. It distributes the flavors more evenly.
4) Bundle up the cheesecloth around it and gently squeeze out the excess liquid. It will be hot, so you can use rubber gloves or a spatula.
5) Place the cheese, still in the cloth, onto a plate and cover with another plate. Then weigh it down overnight in the refrigerator.
That’s our paneer on the bottom, between the plates with a container of chickpeas and a jar of tahini wedged against the roof of the fridge to make a snug press.
The next day you can cut it into cubes and make Saag Panner, or Muttar Paneer. Stay tuned for a great recipe that we made with our paneer.