Monday, 22 February 2010

Forging Fromage - Paneer

After my last attempt at cheese, Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies invited me to join her this month in Forging Fromage. And this month, the challenge was that delicious, squeaky, Indian curd cheese, paneer.

Now, the very first thing I have learned about making cheese is that white cheese on a white cheesecloth on a white plate plays merry hell with the automatic white balance on my camera and sends nearly all pictures to shit.

So I don't have a useable picture of the curds in the saucepan, the curds draining in the cloth or hanging in the jug. So you'll have to take my word for it that those things happened. The first picture I have is after I turned the pressed cheese out ready to eat.

I followed the recipe from Mirch Masala, reposted on Forging Fromage, but I also watched this fantastic YouTube tutorial from Show Me The Curry. It was all ridiculously straightforward, but from the ladies at Show Me The Curry I took the idea of suspending the curds in a jug, to let the weight of the curds themselves help drain them, and the jug catches the whey, Nifty, huh?

I only used 1 litre of milk for my paneer - if it all went tits up, I didn't want to have mounds of curdled milk, plus I had a very specific intention for my paneer and I didn't need a lot for it.

After 12 hours of pressing, I was a bit apprehensive because the cheese was still quite soft. Maybe the jar of sauerkraut I was using as a weight wasn't heavy enough. It was, however, firm enough to slice into pieces, and toss in cornflour in order to fry it and make chilli paneer.

It was actually my quest for a chilli paneer recipe that got me on my intellectual property jag. Do a search for chilli paneer recipes. Do those pictures all seem remarkably similar to you? Can you figure out where it originally came from? And adding insult to injury, the recipe that goes along with it isn't always the same recipe!

But what I wanted was a recipe that was going to turn out like the one at my favourite Indian restaurant, Sahibs. And this recipe looked to me like it would fit the bill. The presence of soy sauce in it is something that surprised me the first time I tasted it at Sahibs, and the green pepper in it also made me think I was on the right track.

My paneer held together well as I coated the slices well in cornflour, and submitted patiently to being turned in the frying pan. Despite the slightly custardier texture when it was finished, it still had a bit of the chewiness and bite that commercial paneer has. It was lovely! I'm not sure that there will be a next time though. I think to make it worthwhile, you really do need to do at least 2 litres of milk, and that would still only make enough for a main course for two people. On the other hand, the texture of home made paneer would be just the thing if you were making rasgulla. So, never say never...

27 comments:

kat said...

I've heard this is a good cheese for the home cheese maker as well. I can't decided from our cheesemaking experiences if its worth the trouble though....

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Yay, you did it!
Great job, I love to shop around for ideas too before starting something totally new.
Looks tasty!
I agree with Kat, sometimes it is easier to shop for the cheese... but it sure is nice to try it at home at least once - Just to say you did!

George Gaston said...

Well done! Looks like the time was well spent seeing your final results.

I agree with your statement, "never say never." There are too many things I want to try... who knows, I just might follow your lead and try this. Many thanks...

Choclette said...

Agh, this is a great post. Thank you. I've been meaning to make paneer for... ummm, several years now! Interesting to hear just how much milk is needed though for quite a small amount. But the homemade stuff I've had is so good. Last time I had friends around for a curry I made my own kulfi, so I really must give this a try. What a nerve some people have - using your pictures, it's outrageous!

Shirley Blake said...

I'm am so impressed by you! Making cheese...what an undertaking, or at least that's what I always thought. Maybe a dedicated (and marginally talented) homecook like me can really do it. And the final dish looks amazing. Well done!

Chef Aimee said...

My best friend's mom makes her own paneer...its a labor of love but SO worth it! This looks great and you did an amazing job!

Velva said...

Making cheese takes a little practice. My hat is off to you for making this delightful cheese

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Impressive!! I love paneer, am most pleased to hear it's do-able to make at home.

mscrankypants said...

I have nothing more articulate to say than YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.

Foodycat said...

Kat - I do want to try making mozzarella though!

Natashya - exactly! I have done it, I know I can do it, now I can decide whether to do it again.

George - the chilli paneer recipe is definitely worth trying, even if you use bought paneer.

Choclette - but kulfi is easy! And so much better than the bought stuff.

Shirley - this is definitely an easy cheese to begin with.

Aimee - lucky!

Velva - thank you!

Laura - very do-able.

Cranky - well I know what to feed you if you visit.

Sam said...

I've seen a few recipes for this before and have been meaning to try it sometime, I've only had Paneer once before but I loved it (it was a paneer curry).

It looks like your paneer has turned out really well, the chilli paneer sounds really good too!

Ivy said...

I've always wanted to make paneer but have not yet tried it. Well done and must try it soon.

Foodycat said...

Sam - only once! You should definitely try it again!

Ivy - thanks!

Dharm said...

I'm so impressed you made your own Paneer!! Well Done!

~~louise~~ said...

Kudos to you Foodycat!!! The closest I've ever come to making my own cheese is draining my home made yogurt. Drained, it becomes "not quite cream cheese."

I hope to one day attempt actual cheesemaking. Thank you so much for this inspiring post. Your Paneer looks heavenly!!!

Foodycat said...

Dharm - thanks!

Louise - yoghurt cheese is getting very, very close to paneer, you should totally try it.

Kavey said...

Mmm, my mum makes home-made paneer. Always seems a faff to me so I buy the ready-made stuff but always enjoy eating mum's home-made stuff when she has done it!

Thanks for all your comments on my blog this last few weeks. I've been on holiday (and had pre-written the last few posts to go up at intervals whilst I was away) so I have now gone back and replied to any comments! THANKS AGAIN!

A Year on the Grill said...

price inefficient I am learning big time now that I moved... so sorry it was not as good as you wished, but it still deserves big points for the effort!

sorry I haven't been around for awhile, I moved to the US Virgin Islands (I still giggle when I say that) for six months, and it is taking awhile to get settled. But i do think I am caught up, and will be back reading each of your new posts as usual...

Come take a look at my new blogs of Island life!

greenwords said...

Have always wanted to have a go at paneer. Yours looks delicious and I can only echo the sentiments of mscrankypants!

Debinhawaii said...

You are becoming quite the cheese maker--very impressive and your paneer looks great!

Foodycat said...

Kavey - I always refer to your mum's recipes!

Dave - have a lovely time! I have friends who work in the BVI and they have a great time.

Rhi - you should. It is very low effort really, gravity does most of it. If you have a day when you are a bit mobile, you should have a go.

Deb - thanks! I want to try a couple more things too.

Kavey said...

Oh, I hadn't realised you knew her site! That's nice to hear too!
x x x

Johanna said...

I haven't experimented with home made cheese yet, but I am not sure it is worth it if one doesn't have access to good milk

Foodycat said...

Kavey - I've been looking at Mamta's kitchen ever since I discovered the BBC food boards, which was about 8 years ago!

Jo - I think you are right. It has to be good milk!

~~louise~~ said...

Thanks for the encouragement Foodycat. I've bookmarked your link for when I get up the nerve:)

Andreas said...

The chili paneer looks great.
Thanks for the link to Show Me The Curry.

Foodycat said...

Louise - just dive in!

Andreas - Show Me The Curry is great! Your dish looks lovely too.

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