DIY: Paneer

A Celebration of India will be taking place tonight at the Drake Hotel for 86’d Mondays, there will be Indian food, music, henna tattoos, fashion and a photography slideshow. It is free and open to the public, starts at 7pm.

In honour of Indian cuisine we’d like to talk about paneer. There is something magical about this Indian cheese, it is so simple to make yet the end result is rich and complex. It holds its shape well in hot temperatures and adds texture and tang to a spicy dish, complimenting the flavours while holding onto its own unique qualities.

You can fry it, toss it in salads or stews, or skewer and grill it on kebabs. Unlike most cheeses, it is lacto-vegetarian since no rennet is used in its production; typically an acid such as lemon juice is used to coagulate the milk.

Rennet, for those of you that have forgotten, is the coagulating agent extracted from the stomachs of unweaned calves, as the “production and processing” of calves- the veal industry – is a by-product of the dairy industry. For those of us confronted with the omnivore’s dilemma, educated choices compromised with moderation, denial and variety help with the decision-making.

Paneer is available in most grocery stores throughout the GTA, especially ones specializing in South Asian cuisine, but making your own is ridiculously easy. Lemon juice is added to hot milk to separate the curd from the whey. Strain the curd through cheesecloth, then put a weight on it for a few hours. The longer you weigh it down, the more liquid will be expelled and the firmer your cheese, so if you want a softer cheese, press it for less time, say half an hour or so. Then submerge it in cold water for a few hours and you’re good to go.

Check out this step-by-step guide.

So now you’ve got this great cheese all dressed up and nowhere to go. Here are a couple simple classic dishes that are as hot as Kareena Kapoor.

Palak Paneer

Ingredients:

500gms Fresh Spinach

100gms Paneer

2 Onions, chopped

I tsp each grated ginger and garlic

5-6 tbsp oil

1 tsp pure ghee or butter

Garam masala to taste

Red chili powder to taste

1 tsp cumin powder

Salt To Taste

 

Method:

Cook the spinach by steaming or boiling, then chop. Heat oil in pan. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a minute. Add onions and fry till golden brown. Add all spices except red chili powder. Add the spinach and little water if needed and cook for 4-5 minutes. Cut paneer into 1-inch cubes  (Paneer can be fried to golden brown in a separate pan or can be used as it is). Add Paneer pieces to the spinach and cook until hot. Remove from pan and put it in a serving bowl. Just before serving, melt ghee or butter in a small pan. Add chili powder and immediately pour on the palak paneer

 

Mattar Paneer

Ingredients:

450gms /1lb green peas

250gms / 1/2lb Paneer

2 medium onions chopped

6 cloves minced garlic

1 tbsp grated ginger

2 green chilies (chopped)

250gms / 1/2 lb tomatoes (peeled and sliced)

Salt To Taste

1cup plain yogurt

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp coriander seeds

4 bay leaves

2 cups water

1/2-cup ghee or butter

To Garnish:

Garam masala powder

Chopped coriander leaves

 

Method:

Make a paste by grinding together half the onions, the garlic and coriander seeds. Heat the ghee or butter in a frying pan and cut the paneer into 2.5-cm/1-inch cubes. Fry the paneer to a light brown and remove to drain on a plate. Add the remaining onion and the ginger to the ghee /butter in and add the bay leaves. Fry until the onion is golden brown. Add the turmeric and the paste mixture and fry until the ghee starts to separate. Add the paneer and peas along with the yogurt, chili, tomato and salt. Stir for 5-6 minutes over low heat. Pour in the water and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Serve the mattar paneer sprinkled with garam masala and coriander

 

 

 

 

 

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