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Monday, September 20, 2010

Paneer - Basic Recipes

I used to think that making paneer would be a tedious and time consuming process and was resigned to using the store bought one. However, I always missed the fresh taste of paneer that I remembered from childhood. So finally, I decided to try it out and the result was so good that I always make paneer at home. It is definitely not a long, cumbersome process. You need to keep an eye on your milk, so it doesn't boil over, but thats about the extent of attention that it needs. Make it a day ahead of when you want to use it and it will be well set by the next day. That way you can make those perfect cubes that you get in restaurant dishes.

1/2 gallon milk
1/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water
linen cloth to tie the paneer in
salt (optional)

Heat the milk in a thick bottomed pan. Mix together the vinegar and water. Once you see small bubbles forming on the top, add the vinegar-water mixture and stir it around. The milk solids will separate from the water and you will get whey and curd. Using the linen cloth and a colander, drain out the whey water and keep that aside. The milk solids/curd is the paneer. Squeeze out the remaining whey water from the paneer and then rinse the paneer, so that the vinegar remnants are washed out. If you want to use the paneer in a vegetable, then add a little salt to the milk solids at this stage and then knead the paneer thoroughly. It will come together after a couple of minutes and will become soft and dough like. Then tie this in the linen cloth, making sure that the cloth is tightly wrapped around it. Place a heavy pan on top to flatten it out. You can also shape it a bit and then tie it up. Once its cooled down, keep in the fridge for a few hours. Once its set, you can use it in your paneer preparation.

Use a pan with a thick bottom, else the milk at the bottom may get burnt. You can use whey water to make bread or chapati dough. If you use a lower fat or fat free milk, the resultant paneer will be very crumbly. Adding salt to the paneer when kneading it will make it flavorful and it will not taste bland when you add it to your paneer vegetable dish.If you plan to make a sweet dish using the paneer, do not add salt to the paneer. You can freeze the paneer for a few weeks.


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