Homemade Paneer

For my birthday last year, a couple of my wonderful friends gave me an Indian cookbook and an enormous bag full of Indian spices.  I love Indian food, and where we live, it is sometimes hard to come by so this was an extremely sweet and generous gift.  Throughout the past year, my husband (mostly) and I have been dipping our toes into Indian cooking and have started getting some pretty good results.

Because our cupboard is now full of the key spices, the ingredients tended to be things we had in the pantry.  Except for the paneer.  If we wanted to have a paneer dish, my husband would have to make a special trip to the Indian grocery store and pick it up.  That is when my friend Kim mentioned that she often makes her own paneer (that girl is all kinds of talented).  Hmm….homemade paneer would mean Indian food whenever the whim struck.

Paneer is this delicious Indian cheese that tastes somewhat like really firm bland cottage cheese when eaten solo but to me, when added to an Indian dish is transformed into a major flavor and texture component of the food.

After a quick Google search, I have started using this paneer recipe with excellent results.  In a little over an hour, I have paneer that I can cook with that night with little effort or cost.

After boiling the milk, adding the lemon juice will create lovely curds
Next, you drain off the whey protein and you are left with cheese that closely resembles cottage cheese
Hang it up to drain over the sink

Put the cheese in the cheesecloth in a bowl.  Put another bowl on top and then something heavy, to press the water out of the cheese. (Dutch oven not strictly necessary, a can of soup will do 🙂