Friday, 8 February 2013

Paneer Cheese

I've been wondering if you could make paneer cheese at home. It's one of my favourites to chose when I have an Indian and as its basically cottage cheese I though it must be possible.

I have memories from when I was young of making cottage cheese with my grandad. I guess I must have only been 6 or 7 and this was in the days where we had milk delivered. On hot days, if the milkman was late, the glass bottles were sometimes left on the doorstep for too long, or we'd have lots left over and the milk would be start to turn sour. Now I don't remember if he heated the milk or added any acid. If he did I think it would have been vinegar, but I do remember him putting the milk in a container with a screw lid and shaking it and getting me to shake it as well. Looking back, this must have been to encourage the curds and whey to separate. I didn't really like the taste of the cheese it made but I did enjoy making something with my grandad. Next time I'm home I'll have to ask my mum if she remembers anymore than I do.

So this week when a bottle of milk was starting to turn I thought it was time to try and make paneer cheese.

I started by bringing 2 pints (around 1 litres) of milk to the boil. I used semi skimmed but I think while milk would work better. Keep stirring every so often so that the milk doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan and burn.

When it comes to the boil add your acid. I used the juice of 1/2 a lemon but you can use lime juice, white wine vinegar or yoghurt. Keep stirring the mixture and it should start to separate with the curds and whey separating. It should happen quickly but if it doesn't add a bit more of your chosen acid.

Remove from the heat and strain the mixture through a cheese cloth or muslin into a bowl. You might need to push some of the liquid though.

You will be left with the cottage cheese or paneer and the whey will have drained through. You can put the whey to one side and use instead of stock or in cakes/bread in place of water.

The cheese can be used as it is

Or wrapped in cling film and put under something heavy to form a ball which can then be sliced into cubes and marinated in Indian spices.

I think I needed to press mine for a little longer as it was still a bit too crumbly, but it tasted good.

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