Fresh, mild vegetarian cheese ubiquitous across India
1 litre full fat milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp fine salt
Bring the milk to a simmer, stirring occasionally. The slower it comes to the boil the better—ideally this should take about 30 mins.
Once it begins to bubble and rise up the pan, stir in ½ the lemon juice while it’s still on the heat. Cook until the milk begins to separate. Add the salt and remaining lemon juice and continue simmering until the mixture separates into a solid and its liquid whey.
Line a sieve with a double layer of clean muslin (or a clean J cloth). Pour over the cheese mixture, leaving the whey to drain off. Leave to one side for 10 mins, then draw the cloth around the fresh cheese and gently squeeze out excess moisture.
Transfer the cloth-wrapped paneer to a tray and pat it out to about 2cm thickness. Put a tray on top and a couple of weighty tins and leave for at least 2-3 hours or overnight if you have the time.
Unwrap the paneer and crumble, grate, or cut into cubes for curries. Paneer lends itself well to spiced stuffings, and can be sliced and coated in batter before being fried as a snack, or mixed with other spiced vegetables such as peas or potatoes. If not using straight away, keep it submerged in water in the fridge. This fresh cheese keeps for about 5 days.
ALTERNATIVE: Try your hand at making spiced paneer and add a chopped green or red chilli, toasted cumin seeds or chopped coriander to the curds before leaving it to firm-up.
WASTE NOT: Making paneer is a good way of using up milk which is close to its use-by date.
Recipe: Roopa Gulati