Oh yeah, The Cheese is back! What better recipe to return with than one with creamy lil blocks of the hearty, versatile cheese known as paneer? For those who have yet to discover this tasty treat, paneer doesn’t melt, isn’t aged and can be easily made by curdling milk with lemon juice, vinegar or other acid.
Commonly used in Indian and South Asian cooking, it has a very light taste, creamy texture, crisps nicely on the outside when fried and is easily addictive.
Paneer is often seen accompanied by dal or lentils, a mix of cooked greens or saag paneer, or with spinach and Indian spices also known as palak paneer.
Indulging my recent love for all food Indian, I couldn’t resist trying to make the cheese from scratch. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long and my lack of patience had me cut the cheese into the spinach before it set long enough to make cubes. The result was perfect. Creamy, rich spinach with bites of fresh paneer, which was just mellow enough to tame the spiciness. I served it with butter chicken and wow! Who knew it was that easy to make cheese?! We cleaned our plates and now I’m sad because we ate it all. And now it’s gone.
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- cheese cloth
- salt to taste
How to Make It!
In a medium sauce pan, heat the milk over medium-high heat until just before boiling. Add about 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice at a time and stir constantly to prevent the milk from scalding on the bottom of the pan. Add salt to taste and allow the curds or solids to separate from the liquid. This may take some time, but your patience will pay off. Once separated, place the solids in a cheese cloth and tie tight, allowing the juice to drain out. Refrigerate if desired, before use. To shape the paneer, place it under something heavy or form into the bottom of a flat casserole dish before refrigerating.
Palak (Spinach) Paneer
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- 1 Tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon coriander, fresh ground
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 pound fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
- 1 cup low-fat greek yogurt
- pinch of sugar
How to Make It!
Heat the olive oil in a sauce pot over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and all spices except for the salt. Cook for about 3-5 minutes. Add some of the spinach leaves, allowing them to cook down before adding more. Once the spinach cooks down, add the lemon juice and a pinch of sugar, stirring to combine. A few minutes before serving, slowly stir the yogurt into the spinach and allow to heat through. Add the paneer and salt to taste. Serves 4