Delicious & Easy
This Punjabi farmers’ cheese or cottage cheese is essentially boiled milk that curdles through use of an acid. The solids are then strained, rinsed, and either left as curds or pressed into blocks depending on their intended use. This versatile cheese has a beautiful and bright flavor, doesn’t melt, and is extremely easy to make.
To make paneer, simply boil the milk and add enough acid, which is not much. Any acidic substance will technically do, including vinegar, wine, yogurt, buttermilk, citric acid, or lemon juice. Yogurt gives more silky texture to cheese but too much alters the flavor. Lemon juice will impart a slightly more citrusy flavor.
Use paneer cheese in this Nasturtium Saag Paneer recipe.
8 cups high quality whole milk
1/3 cup European style yogurt
2 teaspoons or more lemon juice
MAKES APPROXIMATELY 10 OUNCES
In a 6 quart or larger pot, slowly bring whole milk to a boil on medium-high heat stirring regularly. Take care that the milk does not burn on the bottom.
Once the milk starts boiling, let it boil for 10 seconds longer, then turn the heat down to low and add yogurt and lemon juice while stirring. The solids should separate. If they do not, add a little more lemon juice slowly while stirring.
Once the solids have formed, line a colander or mesh strainer with cheesecloth. Pour the liquid with the solids over the cloth to strain.
After, wrap the strained cheese by taking the corners of the cheesecloth up, then spin the top to make it tight, pressing out some of the excess liquid while rinsing with cold water.
Once rinsed and pressed lightly with the cloth, form the cheese into a mold, twist off the top of the cheesecloth, return to a mesh strainer over an empty bowl, and keep refrigerated to press for 3 hours or overnight to make a block of cheese.
You should have a nice block of paneer cheese. Carefully peel back the cheesecloth, and there you go. This lasts for up to 3 days in the fridge, if not longer.
Alternatively: You can fashion a cheese press by using three of the same size stacking plastic containers (I find the tall 1.57 liter Ikea ones work well). Basically, something with about a 3–4 inch square footprint, even a tofu press would work. You can make one with holes drilled or poked into the bottom, or find something else to strain. If you only have stacking containers, I’ve pressed out enough liquid using just two stacking containers and enough weight without a strainer, but it helps to have.
To press the cheese, cut the excess top off the cheesecloth. Form into the bottom of the plastic container with the holes drilled or poked into the bottom. Place that over another container of the same size so they stack, leaving room for excess liquid to drain. Then place the other container over the cheese, so the base presses the cheese square. Add something heavy, even water, onto the topmost container, or put the lid on and put something heavy on top of that. I’ve even balanced a cast iron skillet on one before. The trick is to weigh down the cheese so it forms into the block. Store for a few hours in the refrigerator this way, or overnight.
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Questions About This Recipe
Notes & Thoughts
Starting with 8 cups of milk should yield around 10 ounces or 285 grams of cheese, perfect for this Nasturtium Saag Paneer recipe.