You may have enjoyed Palek Paneer or Saag Paneer at an Indian Restaurant. Indeed I tasted a really delicious paneer at Mithas in Edinburgh recently. You might not have thought of making the paneer (cheese) yourself. But it is such an easy recipe. It works almost like magic!
I’ve discovered that the milk you use makes a real difference. Many recipes say you should use full fat milk, but that’s not something many of us drink these days. The first time I made it, I used standard semi skimmed milk. The result was fine, but there was very little of it.
This time, I used Graham’s Dairies Organic Milk. The resulting cheese was delicious, crumbly and slightly tangy and there was much more of it. I found it ideal for adding to a salad as well as Indian recipes.
You end up with quite a lot of liquid, (whey) after making the cheese. This is ideal for bread making, just replace the liquid in the recipe with the whey.
- 1 litre of milk. Ideally Graham's Organic Milk
- Juice of 1 lemon
- You'll need a saucepan, a wooden spoon, a sieve, a piece of muslin or jelly bag, a bowl to set the sieve in.
- Bring the milk to the boil in a saucepan, stirring all the time. As it starts to boil, add about ½ the juice.
- Turn the heat off. The milk should start to curdle, the solids will separate from the whey. Add additional juice if it's not separating.
- Stretch the jelly bag over the sieve or line it with muslin. Rest it over a bowl to collect the whey. As you can see my jelly bag is well used! Lift the bag out of the sieve and let it drain. This will only take a few minutes.
- When all the liquid has drained, place the jelly bag or muslin on a plate and use the heavy saucepan to press the cheese for about an hour. The photo below shows the cheese before pressing, and indeed you could use it like this. Keep in the fridge until you use it in your preferred recipe. It will keep at least a few days.
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If you rinse the curds with cold water while in the muslin, you’ll get out more of the bitter/tangy citric acid from the lemon juice… if you want to, that is.
Why use skim instead of whole milk, padawan Karl?
Because if you look at the many kinds of cheeses, and paneers available, you will see that the fat content varies CONSIDERABLY, as does the resulting texture. Cheese has much less to do with the milk fat, than it does with the acid-affected casein proteins. Besides, when you do make cheese, the whey actually does contain a fair amount of fat, which, in a huge cheese factory, would be used to make ricotta cheese, which can sometimes be as high as 15% fat.
Thanks Mike- fascinating!
I don’t understand why you would think of using milk from which the fat has been removed to make cheese, which is basically the milk fat?
It seems particularly ironic that you choose an organic milk, presumably on the basis that it is a natural product unadulterated by modern factory-farming practices, only to have it passed on to a centrifuge processing plant in which … it is deliberately adulterated by modern factory-farming practices!
You can use the leftover whey instead of water in your rice too – it gives it a lovely rich tangy flavour.
Being the sort of cook who likes to experiment I used what I had to hand and was pleased with the results!
Thanks for the rice tip!