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Friday, December 28, 2012

Homemade Paneer

Paneer is an Indian cheese used in many recipes, like this one.  In the US, if you know where to look, it's relatively easy to find.  Here in France, I've never seen it.  That doesn't mean it's inexistant, but when I saw how easy and cheap it was to make it myself, I thought: Why bother searching?
You only need 2 ingredients:
Whole milk (I used raw)
Lemon juice or yogurt (3-4 Tbsp per Liter of milk)
1.  Scald the milk while stirring.  Take off heat.
2.  Add lemon juice 1 Tbsp at a time while stirring until the curds separate from the whey.  Let cool briefly so as not to scald yourself.
3.  Strain over a cheesecloth or handkerchief (which I did not have) over a colander, rinse, press into square shape,
and wait 30 minutes.

Aren't we all Little Miss Muffet at one time or another in our lives?
I got quite excited at the chemical reaction of the curds and whey.  Do not throw away your whey.  It is a healthy alternative to stock in soups or stews, and can be used instead of water for kneading dough.  It can be conserved in the freezer if you don't have immediate whey needs.  Also, whey from a previous batch can be used instead of the lemon juice for more tender paneer.  I learned this after having drained away my whey.
What I like most about making paneer is watching the precise moment the milk starts to curdle as I feels so it's doing its best to resist, and not let itself be possessed by its osmoser, until that last second when its muscles fully contract to the point of no return...the climax.

1 Liter does not yield vey much paneer (between 100-120g) so plan ahead according to your needs.
This freezes extremely well.  I should have bought more milk this morning to make several batches for my future needs.
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