February 5, 2011

Making Paneer (Fresh Indian Cheese)

Homemade Paneer

I've been having a lot of fun this week with the menu planning.  It's been so nice b/c I don't have to think on the fly so much, I know when to thaw things or soak beans or marinate meat ahead of time, and grocery shopping was really easy.  I feel more organized and less stressed about dinners.  (I know Tedd is enjoying the menu planning for sure!)

I am such an Indian Food freak...I could eat it every. day.  So I planned to make an "Indian food feast" earlier this week and it turned out so yummy.  I used this butter chicken recipe - YUM!  And we had Palak Paneer (Spinach & Cheese) for a special treat.

I actually had a lot of fun making the paneer (fresh Indian cheese) and would like to make it more often.  I followed this video tutorial.  It's a little time-consuming, but seriously easy. 

It makes me feel so old-fashioned to make cheese...and I like it...is that weird?

First I took a half-gallon of milk and brought it to a boil, stirring often so it didn't stick.
(When it's "boiling," it gets foamy and starts to rise.)

Then I removed it from the heat and slowly stirred in 1/4 c of fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about two lemons worth).  The milk curdled very quickly and I had a pot of curds and whey!

I strained out the whey in a colander covered with a double-layer of cheesecloth and was left with the delicious cheese.

After hanging the cheese in the cheesecloth to drain for several minutes, I kneaded in some salt, wrapped it up again into a block inside the cheesecloth, and then weighed it down between two plates.
hang time

my block of cheese being smashed between two plates with a weight on top

I left it in the fridge until I was ready to cut it up into cubes and sautee it for Palak Paneer.

It was delicious by itself!  I would totally eat this on a bagel or toasted bread, or again, just by itself.  It tastes soooo fresh.
isn't it so pretty??

I thought the leftover whey would be a big waste, but I've actually used quite a bit of it already.  I substituted the chicken stock in the butter chicken recipe with whey and then I used it again for baked mac (I ran out of milk, so I used whey + heavy cream).  I took about a quart of it and stuck it in the freezer to use as stock later on.  I'm looking forward to making this cheese again!
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