Paneer is a fresh cheese that is very easy to make. Aside from the time it takes to stir the milk while it boils, and the time it takes to press the cheese, it is really a simple process and the product is way better than the packaged products you can find at large grocery chains.
What you will need:
4 Litres of whole milk and 1/2 cup of lemon juice.
(I always squeeze a bit more and you will see why later on)
A sturdy strainer that can sit atop a large pot, a fine strainer, and a large section of cheesecloth. Get this set up beforehand.
STEP 1: Get your lemon juice ready ahead of time. 2 lemons should make your 1/2 cup +
STEP 2: Pour all 4 litres of milk into a large saucepan. Set heat to medium low and stir constantly to avoid scorching on the bottom of the pan. It will take about 30 minutes to boil.
STEP 3: Once the milk is at a rolling boil and starts to foam add all of the lemon juice.
STEP 4: The milk will separate from the whey. If not, you don’t have enough lemon juice. Hopefully you will have more set aside, but for 4 litres of milk, 1/2 cup + should do it.
STEP 5: Strain the whey from the curd. In this photo we’ve dumped the whey away. You can save the whey, but we didn’t have a use for it this time.
STEP 6: Run cold water over the curd until it cools. We are using filtered water here, but tap water is really best and more efficient.
STEP 7: Gather up the curd and wiggle the water out, make sure there is no more steam or heat in the curd bundle. The centre, of course will hold the heat the longest, so be sure to cool that area too.
STEP 8: Twist the curd in the cheesecloth into a ball. It will still be holding water and that’s okay.
STEP 9: Wrap the curd ball nice and tight and smooth so no curd can escape under high pressure, but so that the twist doesn’t punch a dent into the middle of the finished cheese. Set into a strong strainer that is firmly set on a sturdy catchment vessel like the saucepan you boiled the milk in.
STEP 10: Place a plate over the curd ball and then a cloth on top of that so the stone or bricks, or weight unit does not damage the plate or crumble into the unit.
STEP 11: Place the straining unit on a sturdy surface, or better yet on the floor because it will be heavy. Set the weight on top of the cloth and plate. Balance the weight so your cheese sets in a balanced fashion. Let sit for at least 2 hours.
STEP 12: Unwrap the cheesecloth and enjoy the finished product. I wash and dry my cheesecloth for further use. Place your finished block of paneer in a sealed container or bag in the fridge until ready to use. Depending on the level of hygiene throughout the process, it should keep for a week.
Go to the botanigals boutique page and find The Odd Spice shelf. Click on the Angrezi Curry Masala icon to find the recipe for Matar Paneer and purchase the spice so you can use your paneer in an unbelievably delicious dish!
May the forest be with you.