Paneer is the one of the cheeses all curd lovers should try at least once. A star ingredient in some of the best tasting Indian dishes, it is a delicacy that you can rarely have enough of. Your stomach being full doesn’t seem to make a difference – you will keep wanting to pop another piece in your mouth. You can buy Paneer at stores and use it in homemade curries, but nothing beats preparing it from scratch. Here is how to do that in less than 30 minutes.
You will need:
• ½ gallon whole milk
• ¼ cup lemon juice or vinegar
• ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt
• 4-quart saucepan
• Slotted spoon
• Strainer or colander
• Mixing bowl
• Cheesecloth, nut bag, or other cloths for straining
• Dinner plates
• Weights, like a 32-ounce can of tomatoes
• Pour the milk in a saucepan and set it to medium heat. Bring this to a bare simmer, at around 200°F. Stir occasionally, and scrape the bottom of the pot so the milk won’t scald. After it is ready, the milk will start looking foamy and steamy.
• Remove the milk and add the lemon juice. Stir and the milk will start curdling immediately. It is not a problem if this doesn’t happen right away.
• Cover the milk and let it stand for about 10 minutes, so the acid in the lemon has time to detach the curds form the whey. After that, you will have a watery, yellow liquid. If it has not separated completely, another tablespoon of acid can be added. If that doesn’t work either, make sure you didn’t use non-UHT milk.
• Place a colander over the mixing bowl, line this with cheesecloth, then take out curds, and pour over the strainer. Squeeze so the whey will collect in the bowl underneath.
• Open the cheesecloth and add half of the salt in a fine sprinkle. Stir the curds gently, and add more if needed.
• Move the curds to a large plate, and press them into a rough square. Fold the cheesecloth tightly around this so you have a rectangular shape. Set another large plate on top of this to weight it down. Press, and keep at it for 15 minutes to one hour.
• Refrigerate the Paneer after pressing it. This can be done for up to two days. This makes the curds firmer, which means they won’t crumble as easily as fresh Paneer.
That was on how to make Paneer at home. It is one of the best-textured curds you can prepare, and you will thank yourself for learning how.