Sunday, May 04, 2008

Palak-Paneer made with homemade Paneer

I have always made home made paneer by splitting the milk with vinegar until I read Suvir Saran's method. It makes a pretty huge difference to the consistency and taste of the paneer. Here is Suvir Saran's recipe:

* 10 cups whole milk
* 1/2 cup buttermilk / yogurt (more maybe needed, so keep some extra)
In a large heavy bottomed pan, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat. Stir often to ensure that the milk is not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
When milk starts to boil, lower heat and add the buttermilk and stir until the milk starts to separate into curds.
Remove from heat as soon as this happens. You can even add a few ice cubes to the curd-whey mix. The heat will make the protein tougher. Hence the need to expose the cheese to as little heat as possible.
If the curds are not forming, add a little more buttermilk and cook for a couple of minutes more. And do the above as soon as the curds form.
Pour the curds-whey mix into a collander lined with several layers of cheese cloth or even a layer of muslin, draining onto a dish that will collect the whey.
Collect the sides of the cheesecloth or muslin and tie them up together and twist gently to help drain the whey from the curds.
Place the bundled curds on a tray and press this bundle with a heavy pan/container or obejct. Make sure this heavy weight covers the bundle fully.
To make cheese for dessert recipes or for koftas or even a bhujia, weight it down for no more than a half hour.
For recipes where cheese cubes are used, weight the bundle down for an hour or more. This will make the cheese form a firm mass that can be cut into neat cubes.

Note: I use buttermilk as it makes for cheese that has very little sour flavor. People use lemon or vinegar, these curdle the milk quickly but leave a strong aftertaste. This aftertaste is not nice when making desserts with cheese.

Try and use the cheese the same day as you make it. The more time it is kept the dryer it becomes and the harder it will be. When making soft cheese for desserts. Weight it down for a shorter time as I write above. You can leave more moisture in, if you know you will not use it till the next day. The cheese will get dryer in refrigeration.

For the firm cheese, you can make the firm cube and store it overnight in chilled water. But you cannot put the cheese in water until a firm cake, with all the whey drained is formed. So, first make your cheese cube, and if you are not using it the same day, immerse it in a container of water, seal with a cover and cut only when ready to use into smaller cubes.

2 bunches spinach leaves washed thoroughly, drained and chopped
Home made paneer made as shown above
1 onion sliced fine
3 green chillies finely chopped
2" piece of ginger chopped
4 garlic cloves chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon oil
salt to taste
Fresh Lime juice from half a lemon

Blanch the spinach leaves in a little water. Cool and roughly blend but not too smooth.
Heat oil and let cumin seeds splutter. Add onions and green chillies and fry for a 3-4 minutes.
Add ginger and garlic and fry for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the spinach and stir, add salt to taste
Add the paneer and stir. Cover and cook for 6-8 minutes.
Add juice from half a lime (optional)


sowmya said...

looks delicious...i usually blend the spinach to a smooth paste for palak paneer...

Arundathi said...

thats really interesting ria - thanks for the post. i use very little acid, so don't get much of an aftertaste, but i agree it probably wouldn't work for desserts.

Uma said...

looks so delicious with nice color. Yummy!

Susan said...

Palak paneer is an old, favorite dish, probably the first I ever ate when I discovered Indian food about ten years ago. Alas, I want a bowlful right now!