I made fresh paneer this weekend--my first escapade in cheese making! (Recipe below) Next time, however, I think I'll use whole milk--I used 1% and it was delicious fresh, but after one night in the fridge, it was a little hard when I made saag paneer the next day. It wasn't too bad, but if I were to do it again, I'd use it all fresh or else use fattier milk. To curdle the milk, I did a mixture of yogurt and lemon juice; the latter flavored the cheese really nicely when we ate it fresh with a little salt and garam masla on top. Yum!

Paneer Cheese
makes 8 ounces or 30 1-inch pieces
1/2 gallon (8 cups) lowfat or whole milk (skim makes it hard and leathery)
2 cups plain yogurt (nonfat or any kind), or 1/4 cup lemon juice, or a mixture of both
4 layers of cheesecloth or piece of fine muslin

Bring the milk to a boil. Before it boils over, add the yogurt/lemon juice and stir until it separates into curds and whey, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour the curds and whey into a the cheesecloth (use a pan, bowl, or colander to help hold the cloth in place). Bundle up the edges of the cloth and let the cheese to drain hanging for 3 to 5 minutes--I tied mine to the kitchen faucet. Twist the cloth snugly around the cheese and press between plates or anything waterproof and flat (the excess cloth to side) for 10 to 12 minutes. I did this in the sink, putting the whey, which was in a big bowl, on top of the plates to press the cheese. The cheese should keep 4-5 days in the refrigerator or a few months in the freezer.


Rachael said...

i want your recipe for saag paneer! i've made paneer and it was great, but when i attempted saag paneer, the consistency was just not right. i've been searching for a good recipe forever, to no avail. wah wah.

ajbc said...

There are a few things that might change the consistency: using a blender or food processor to mince or puree the spinach once it has cooked, or adding yogurt.

When I made mine, I was too lazy to take out the greens to mince them. Instead of taking them out, which can be messy, one can leave the leaves whole, chop them before cooking, or use a hand blender if the batch is big enough.

The yogurt is tricky because it might curdle. Typically one adds it slowly to prevent this, but temperature can impact curdling, so bring down the heat or mix it in at the last minute to be safe.

Saag Paneer
makes 4 to 6 servings

8 oz Paneer Cheese, cubed
1 lb fresh spinach, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
spices to taste (garam masla, coriander, fenugreek, paprika, salt, cayenne pepper, cardamom)
vegetable or olive oil (olive oil is healthier but doesn't have the right flavor for indian food--if you plan on spicing the saag enough, its taste isn't noticeable)
1/4 cup plain yogurt (optional)

Sauté the ginger and onion in the oil then add the spinach slowly until just wilted. Add the spices and cheese and cook until the cheese is warm. Remove from heat and mix in the yogurt slowly. Garnish with garam masla.

Rachael said...

i'm definitely trying this this week. thanks!

ajbc said...

Good luck! If you play around with it and find something that works well, let me know! :)