Sunday, 15 May 2011

Homemade paneer.

I had the most amazing day.  First I went for coffee with my friend Jason and his girlfriend, Jen, whom I hadn't met till today, and she was fabulous, then I came home and did some baking.  First, I made paneer.  I'll post about the other things (some of them, at least) later.

Paneer is a soft-ish Indian cheese made without rennet, which makes it a true vegetarian cheese.  It has a creamy texture and a rather plain taste.  In Indian dishes it is usually accompanied by a tasty sauce that it absorbs lots of flavour from, much like tofu.  I really enjoy paneer, so was excited to try making it.

I picked up a litre of whole goat's milk (produced by Avalon Dairy, unsurprisingly, so in a glass bottle) this morning and brought it home after coffee with Jen and Jason, and made it immediately.  We were planning on making Indian food for dinner, so I wanted to get going on it ASAP.  I put the milk in a large pot and put it on medium high heat.  I kept a close eye on the pot because the goal is to get the milk to a boil, but you don't want to scald the milk because that will cause your pot to get caked with milk and I'm sure it will affect the taste of the paneer.  As soon as the milk was at a full (but not rolling) boil, I added two tablespoons of lemon juice (actual lemon juice, not Real Lemon, although that might not matter).  I stirred as I was pouring it in and then kept stirring until this happened, which was only about ten seconds:
This means that the curds have separated from the whey.  I took the pot off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes then put it through a fine mesh strainer lined with four layers of cheesecloth:
I chose to capture the whey because I planned to use it in the sauce that we were going to make to go with our dinner.  Then I wrapped the cheesecloth around the panner tightly to squeeze out as much whey as I could, then bundled it up with an elastic band.
I allowed it to hang and drip for a while, about an hour, then took the elastic off and laid the cheesecloth as flat as I could over it and put it in a container with another container on top of it and something heavy on top to press out even more of the liquid.  This was the final product:
It made about 2/3 of a cup of paneer, which later turned out to be the exact right amount for me for dinner!  It was creamy and delicious and much better than the paneer I've had at restaurants.  Brilliant!

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