The Path to Paneer Perfection
Hey, everyone! This week, I was wondering what to do for a blog post, and a classmate of mine actually asked if I would make them some paneer. Paneer is a fresh cheese that comes from the Indian subcontinent. This quick and easy cheese has a number of uses and is delicious in many applications. This seemed like a good food to showcase, especially because I am a sucker for cheese! I went to a local market and picked out a gallon of whole milk for a two-pound yield of cheese. One of my all-time favorite dishes to eat that showcases paneer is Saag Paneer. A rich gravy of spinach and aromatics make up the sauce, and paneer soaks it right up, making for an irresistible combination. I really enjoy Indian cuisine, and over the years I’ve actually found that I like the vegetarian dishes better. In my opinion, paneer makes a fantastic substitute for meat and is easier on the stomach as well.
In my Canning, Jarring, and Preserving class here at WHC, I learned a great recipe for paneer that is very easy to execute. With only two ingredients, it is a procedural recipe that is very user-friendly. If you don’t quite get the separation of curds and whey the first time you add the lemon juice, you can always add more until you get the desired curds. Some important things to note are that when making any type of cheese, it is a good general rule to have cheese cloth or butter muslin on hand. A large sieve proves to be very helpful, as well as a half-sheet pan with a rack if you don’t have a proper cheese press. Something heavy such as a gallon of milk or heavy pans are good for pressing in a pinch. The following is the recipe I use from the class that I took. I think that it’s a good ratio and yield for milk to cheese. I really enjoyed making this recipe, and I hope that anyone reading does, too!
- 1 gallon whole milk
- ½ cup lemon juice
- Bring milk to a gentle, rolling boil.
- Reduce heat to low, and stir in lemon juice.
- Cook for 15 seconds, then remove from heat.
- Stir gently to see separation (large curds), then leave for 10 minutes.
- Ladle curds into strainer lined with cheese cloth.
- Rinse curds gently with warm water to remove lemon juice.
- Tie off cheese cloth, and hang for 1-2 hours to drain.
- Place cloth-bound cheese on a sheet pan with a rack, and apply 5 lbs. of pressure for 1 hour. (A cheese press can be used as well.)
- Remove cheese from cloth, and store for up to 2 weeks.
The beauty of a recipe like this is that you can easily change the batch size. The above recipe yields two pounds of paneer. Simply cut the recipe in half for a one-pound yield. Once you get the hang of making this, explore the many recipes that give paneer the showcase that it deserves. As previously mentioned, Saag Paneer is my favorite panir recipe, but there are most likely hundreds of recipes and variations to explore. Try substituting this in place of meat in a curry recipe. I’m sure the possibilities are endless, and I always have fun learning new ways to spice up ingredients that I love. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this post and that you now have a platform to follow your path to paneer perfection. Thanks for reading!