Monday, October 11, 2010

Homemade Paneer (Indian Cheese)

Maybe I am crazy -- I don't know. I've finalized the menu for Chip's Indian birthday feast. So, here goes...

Appetizer/Cheese Plate: Roquefort, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Savannah Bee Tupelo honey with raw honeycomb, red Bartlett pears, toasted walnuts, crackers.

Dinner: Chicken Tikka Masala, Saag Paneer, basmati rice, Naan

Dessert: German Chocolate cake (purchased at Crazy Cat Bakers) decorated with candy corn and candles (by me)

Today, I made the paneer for the saag paneer and the chicken tikka. I've heard you can buy paneer at the Indian grocery store or maybe Fresh Market, but I didn't feel like driving all the way out there. The recipe did not look that difficult, so I gave it a try.

First, I had to heat one gallon of whole milk to a boil.

Milk very quickly boils over if you aren't watching it, so I had to watch it like a hawk and stir it to keep the bottom from scorching. As soon as the milk came to a boil, I took it off the heat and added 1/4 cup of white vinegar. The curds (solids) immediately began to separate from the whey (liquids).I let it cool for a few minutes while I lined a colander with cheesecloth. I actually couldn't find cheesecloth at Kroger, but Chip found some in the paint aisle at Home Depot.

I placed the cheesecloth-lined colander in the sink and slowly poured in the hot curds and whey, making sure the whey did not pool in the bottom of the sink.I lightly salted the top of the cheese curds, wrapped them in the excess cloth, and let them sit in the sink for about an hour while they cooled and drained.
Later, I placed another heavy pot on top of the cheese and put two 10-pound weights in it. This helped press out all of the whey so that I had a firm cheese that could be cubed.

I let the cheese drain under the press for about 4 hours. I think with the 20-pounds I had on top of it, 4 hours was a bit too long. The cheese was firmer than I would have liked it to be.Unfortunately, this is the point at which I forgot to continue to take photos. To finish the cheese, I cubed it, sauteed it in a little bit of canola oil, and let it drain and cool on a paper towel. Now my beautiful homemade paneer is in the refrigerator, just waiting to be eaten in some yummy saag on Wednesday night.

I also marinated and grilled the chicken for the Chicken Tikka Masala last night. Our house smelled amazing as it grilled on the grill pan.


Chip has band practice tonight, so I'll be busy cooking and getting ready for the party. Tonight, I am making the masala sauce for the Chicken Tikka Masala and making and refrigerating the bread dough for the naan. More photos to come!


Leah Maria said...

YUM!! What a mouthwatering menu!

Can't wait to hear how the rest of it turns out!

Ginger said...

You should be a chef! So impressive to make your own cheese!!

Happy Birthday to Chip and have a wonderful night :)

Casey said...

Chip is a lucky guy! You are so thoughtful :)

Lisa Blair said...

I had so much fun trying these new recipes. Casey, on the paneer I got inspiration from you and your homemade ricotta!