Cheese Making 101- Paneer

Yesterday I was perusing one of my favorite sites Apartment Therapy when I came across an entry about the best cheese making kits which got me thinking about making cheese at home. Why have I never done this?! I guess its because I thought it was something that could not be undertaken in ones private kitchen without fear of creating some strange super mold that would bring about the end of mankind. While pursuing the list of at home cheese kits drooling at the thought of fresh mozzarella and ricotta cheese I saw a link about making Indian Paneer cheese at home! Knowing my boyfriend’s love of Saag Paneer I decided to try my hand at homemade cheese.

Using the recipe from Apartment Therapy I went about making my own fresh cheese. The one adjustment I made was to use low fat milk instead of whole milk to make the cheese a bit lighter (next time I plan on trying with soy milk to see if that works). To my amazement making paneer is incredibly easy, in fact so easy I think Im just going to start making my own infused cottage cheeses from home (to make cottage cheese instead of paneer you just skip the pressing step). Basically if you can boil milk in a pot you can make cheese, who knew?! Just make sure to heat it slowly and stir so that you do not burn the cheese.

How the cheese should appear after pressing

Tips

  • If you do not have cheese cloth, just double up some sturdy clean paper towels. Just make sure that you dont get any paper towel bits on the cheese ;)
  • Add a little salt to the milk while you are boiling it to give it a little extra flavor. You can also try throwing in lemongrass, dill, or other seasonings.
  • If youre looking for something to use your paneer in, try making Saag Paneer which is almost as easy as making the paneer itself!

    Saag Paneer

    Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of fresh spinach washed and cleaned
  • 1/2 tbl sp tumeric
  • 1/2 tbl sp garam masala
  • 1/2 tbl sp paprika
  • 1 tbl sp salt
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 chili (either dried or fresh, you can add a second one if you like it spicy)
  • 8 oz fresh paneer (the recipe above for paneer will make about 8 oz) cut into cubes
  • 3 tbl sps Ghee or unclarified butter (if you absolutely cannot find Ghee, a little unsalted butter will work fine).
  • In a pan cook the first 8 ingredients until the spinach has completely wilted. Then remove the pot from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Transfer all contents of pot including liquid into a blender and puree until smooth (but not liquid!). Then in a pan, heat the ghee and saute the paneer until light brown. Add the spinach mixture to the pan and cook for a few more minutes. Taste to see how it is, from here you can add some chili powder for extra spice or a bit more tumeric or masala to add extra flavor. Serve immediately with rice.

    So there you have it, easy homemade cheese and homemade delicious Saag Paneer. All in all everything was incredibly easy to make taking about an hour total. As I mentioned in a previous post, I would include photos, but my camera is broken right now, so once that gets fixed I will update this with photos.

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