healthy food. recipes. reviews.
Paneer is one of those things I choose to make at home. Store bought paneer just doesn’t taste the same, and I don’t know if it’s made from organic milk or not. So, making my own mostly gives me some amount of peace, maybe that’s why it tastes better too 😉 . My Ma taught me this as well like almost all things I cook and she, like me, tends to think that homemade tastes and performs better.
Whenever Ma made paneer at home, for me it was this amazing science experiment that I got to watch and help with. Sometimes just to appease my excited eyes, she would call out, “I’m gonna make paneer, who wants to help?” Being that super studious, straight-A student that I was, anything remotely related to science and I was there! And so it would begin with pouring half a gallon of milk into a non-stick big sauce pan. She’d ask me to squeeze out the juice of 1 or 2 lemons, about 2-3 tablespoons while the milk heated. And then she’d take on the role of a teacher that she is and say, “That lemon juice you have is acidic. Adding something acidic like this does what to milk?” “Mmmm….It separates the milk into solids and liquid,” I’d blurt impatiently trying to skip over everything else coz I wanted to watch what happened next. “No, not yet, you know,” she’d say with that concerned yet loving voice, “You got to let the milk come to a boil.” “Yes, yes, that…. it takes so long.” I could barely wait. So, to keep me entertained, she’d explain, “Milk is made up of solids and liquids and we can actually separate the two! Doodh ka doodh, paani ka paani!” (A saying in Hindi which literally means separating the milk into milk and water… and what it really means is clearing out any suspicions, pretensions, especially when someone is lying. Anyway, that’s beyond the scope of this post, so lets stick to paneer). By the time she was done with explaining, the milk would’ve reached its boil and I was allowed to pour in the lemon juice and immediately handed a wooden spatula. “Stir it just a little and watch.” I’d do just that and derive so much joy out of what was to come next in couple of minutes. “Ahhhhh! there it is, the solid separating from the liquid whey. Yayyyyyyy!” She’d say, “Voila, and we have paneer.” 🙂 Over joyed, I’d look with gleeful eyes, as she killed the heat and poured it into a cheese cloth draped over a large bowl. The whey collected in the bowl and the paneer in the cloth. Since it was very hot, I was only allowed to watch. She’d collect corners of the cloth and make a nice bundle and squeeze out as much whey as possible. Then she’d say, “We’ve got to get all this whey out so we can have nice cubes of paneer,” as she tied up the bundle and pressed it between two chopping boards. “Go get that heavy planter,” no sooner had she said that I would already be standing by her side holding it. She’d place it on top of the chopping board to aid the whey oozing out. “And now we wait.”
Gosh! How much we wait! There’s just too much patience required in making this paneer. But, for me the exciting part of seeing the curdling process was over and I’d lose interest at this point. Now I know that it would be couple hours before she’d open up the bundle and find some really yummy paneer, that she’d cut into cubes and use in her delicious palak paneer. 🙂
There that’s the recipe, presented here pictorially. What you’ll need: