So, last week, my friend and ex-roommate, Beata, came over and we made an Indian feast with my new cookbook, 660 Curries. Beata and I used to order this
terrible awesome Indian food when we lived together at the University, and since then we have been to a number of Indian foods in our quest to never go to the same restaurant twice. (Restaurant club–long story.)
Anyways, as soon as I realized that 660 curries was the treasure trove I thought it was, I knew I had to have Beata over for some Indian food. We decided to make a couple of curries that we had already heard of, you know, just to compare it to what you would get in a restaurant. It was an interesting experiment, and everything was delicious.
One of the most amazing things about our dinner was that we made Paneer, from scratch! Making cheese always sounds like a pain, but I’m here to tell you, Karla, and everyone else, that you should never buy Paneer. It’s SO EASY TO MAKE!
So here goes: for step 1 of my series on our amazing Indian dinner, Paneer!
This is technically from 660 Curries, but I’ve found the same recipe just about everywhere, so I’m just going to say, this is how it’s done!
Ingredients:1 gallon of whole milk
1/4 cup of vinegar
a large heavy pot
Step 1: Put the gallon of whole milk in your heavy pot and bring just to a boil
Step 2: As soon as your milk comes to a boil, turn off the heat and stir in 1/4 cup vinegar. The milk will instantly separate into curds and whey (cool, right?) Don’t panic! The curds look like floating bits of cottage cheese, and the whey is pale GREEN. This is completely normal. (Note: If only about half your milk separates, add a little more vinegar. I had to add an extra tablespoon or so before it all separated.) It will look like this:
Step 3: Line a colander with two layers of cheesecloth. Make sure the cheesecloth is large enough to hang over the edges of the colander a bit. You’ll be folding it over the top of the cheese in a second.
Step 4: Pour the curds and whey into the colander. The curds will get trapped and the whey will go right through the cheesecloth. Discard the whey. It will look like this:
Step 5: Now, fold your cheesecloth over the top of the curds and weigh it down with a heavy pot full of water. You don’t have to press the curds down at all; time and gravity will do that. Leave the pot on the curds for 3 to 5 hours. It doesn’t have to be refrigerated or anything. Just let it sit on the counter (maybe with a larger bowl underneath.) The remaining whey will strain out, and the curds will come together.
Step 6: After the 3 to 5 hours, remove the pot and uncover your cheese! You will find that the crumbly curds have become one whole. Unwrap it and discard or wash your cheesecloth. Wrap your cheese in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. Ta da!
Next time: What to do with that Paneer!