Paneer is a fresh (non-aged) cheese that you find in many South Asian countries. It is basically pressed milk curds. It is rennet-free which makes it lacto-vegetarian, and it does NOT melt because it is not aged. This is the cheese you find in Palak Paneer and other Indian curries with cheese.
1. Wash your "cheesecloth" nicely and spread it into the strainer. You'll pour a boiling-hot pan full of curdled milk into this, so it's good to have a big cloth. If you don't have a strainer, a huge mixing bowl can work, but you'll have to pick up the cloth with steam coming off it. Prepare yourself mentally for steam burns.
2. Put your milk [and cream, if using it] into the pot. The cream is optional, but the paneer is made of milk protein (curds) and the heavier cream content, the bigger and fluffier and sweeter your paneer will be. A little box of cream is usually 300-400 yen, so I listed it as optional---but it makes a HUGE difference to the quality of your paneer. If you'll be eating it by the slice, with olives (my favorite) or on its own, I recommend the cream. If you're putting it into a curry, you can squeak by with just regular whole milk.
3. Add seasonings as you deem necessary. Simple black pepper and a little salt usually does me fine. But anything from paprika to basil could work for your recipe.
4. Turn on low to medium heat and stir the milk gently. This part will take a while. Keep the milk moving and don't allow it to burn to the bottom of the pot.
5. Keep stirring. It looks like it's not doing anything, but it is.
6. When you start to see a sort of light foam on the milk, get your acid (vinegar or lemon juice) ready. Keep stirring.
7. Allow the milk to reach a boil. It will SUDDENLY start foaming like mad and try to boil out of the pot. Let the foam reach right to the top edge of the pot, then immediately remove from heat. Basically, you are letting the milk boil for about 5 seconds or less.
8. Immediately add a tablespoon of your desired acid and stir. If you see nothing happen, add another tablespoon and keep stirring. You will suddenly see the milk separate into small curds and clear whey. Stir until all the proteins have been broken out of the milk and are floating freely in the whey.
9. Pour the contents of the pot into your "cheesecloth" and drain the whey. You could drink that if you want to. It tastes like mild cheese water. Not bad.
10. Let as much water as possible drain from the paneer, which should start to stick to itself if you shake it. Pick up the edges of the cheesecloth and twist the paneer into a tight ball, pressing out more of the water. Don't burn yourself!
11. Flatten the paneer somewhat on your countertop, and more whey will continue to squeeze out. You can put something heavy on top of the twisted cloth, such as a pot, to press out the water. The more water you remove, the harder and flatter your paneer will come out. If you leave more water in, you'll get a fluffy, soft, almost foamy paneer.
12. When most of the water seems to be out, wrap the whole thing (still in the cloth) in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for a couple of hours to harden.
13. Paneer may be eaten as soon as it's cold (and less likely to crumble). IT'S DELICIOUS!
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|Serving Size: 1 Serving (135g)|
|Recipe Makes: 8 Servings|
|Calories from Fat: 71 (64%)|
|Amt Per Serving||% DV|
|Total Fat 7.9g||10 %|
|Saturated Fat 4.9g||25 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 2.3g|
|Polyunsanturated Fat 0.3g|
|Cholesterol 30mg||9 %|
|Sodium 54.9mg||2 %|
|Potassium 191.2mg||5 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 6g||2 %|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0 %|
|Sugars, other 6g|
|Protein 4.3g||6 %|
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Calories per serving: 111
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