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Homemade Paneer

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!

Homemade Paneer

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.

Homemade paneer

Homemade Paneer

To make approximately 250g of paneer

Ingredients: 

  • 2 litres of rich whole milk 
  • 3-4 tbsp white wine vinegar

Method:

    1. Put the milk in a large, heavy pan and set over a medium heat.
    2. Meanwhile, set up a sieve over a large bowl and line it with a clean tea towel or 3-4 layers of muslin at least 60cm square.
    3. When the milk begins to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, add 3 tbsp of the vinegar and stir. The mixture will curdle at this point and the curds should separate from the whey, if this doesn’t happen add the remaining tbsp of vinegar.
    4. Empty the mixture into the lined sieve, letting the whey to drain into the bowl. Gather up the ends of the cloth and twist, squeezing out as much whey as possible.
    5. Place a heavy weight on top of the paneer and leave it.
    6. The longer the paneer is left, the firmer it will be.

      Tips:

        • Paneer should be creamy, light but rich, somewhere in texture between ricotta and marscarpone!
        • The richness and tastiness of the milk makes all the difference in the quality of the paneer – Yeo Valley organic whole milk produces a delicious cheese.
        • The whey can be used instead of water in curries.
        • If you haven’t got time to make paneer, you can buy it from Asian stores and some supermarkets in block form. The texture is more rubbery than homemade and better for making koftas or crispy dishes

          Comments

          Mukthi on 18th Jul 2015 said:

          Your paneer looks delish!! nice post.

          Reply to this comment