I would love to know who is making their own cheese from scratch. Real bread has taken off with such fanfare, with many of us tending to our sourdough starters. So I thought, "what goes best with homemade bread?" Must be cheese!
The easiest cheese to make is soft cheese, and the one we make most often is Indian paneer. Homemade, it comes out like a mix between cottage cheese and mascarpone, delicate in flavour. It’s vegetarian by tradition and is never made with animal rennet.
You can buy paneer in blocks, but it's firm and rubbery, good for dishes such as palak paneer or for kebabs, but I prefer the softer homemade variety. It’s easy to make - all you need is is a large quantity of full fat milk and a bit of vinegar. I choose organic, un-homogenised milk - the better the milk, the better the flavour of the cheese. Then I use white wine vinegar to precipitate the milk and separate the curds from the whey. It’s rather like waiting for the kettle to boil, you need the milk to be just about to boil (80C), and then add the vinegar, turn down the heat, and wait and watch for the milk to curdle. Then it's just a matter of straining the curds from the whey, and the paneer is yours!
At our last supper club, Helen took our fresh plain paneer and spiced it up with chillies, mustard seeds and coriander, rolled it into balls, fried it, then mixed with methi (fenugreek leaves). Baby spinach would work just as well. On our Indian Cookery courses we always make paneer and then crumble into to one of my favourite aubergine and tomato curries Paneer Baigan.
To make approximately 250g of paneer