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Paneer, attempt 1

I was really excited to find a paneer recipe in the Artisan Cheese Making at Home book as Paneer is not one of the cheeses which I can find easily here. However the recipe was for a low fat version and required either making or buying buttermilk (which I can't find here either). So instead, having decided that I was going to make paneer, I went online to find a recipe. The one I settled on was from a food blog called Swasthi's Recipes, and it called for either vinegar, lemon juice or yogurt to make the cheese. Overall the beginning of the recipe looked very similar to the Queso Blanco, except that the curds then get rinsed and then pressed at the end of the process.

Making the cheese went quite well. Working from Swasthi's blog was different from working either from the cheese making kit or from the book as her method is much looser. The other two use precise temperatures to which you heat the milk and precise amounts of ingredients to add at a specific time. Swasthi did not (her recipes ressembled my own!). I was at once at a bit of a loss and quite liberated. Of the three possible curdling agents she suggested I picked yogurt. My problem started though in that she had indicated about 1/4c of yogurt for 1.5l of milk. After adding 1/4 c the milk did curdle but not nearly enough. So I added some yogurt. And a bit more. And a bit more after that. Eventually, I think I used about 1 1/4 or 1 1/2c of yogurt. That aside though, once I had added enough, the milk curdled and it came together really well. For paneer made with yogurt, apparently rinsing the curds wasn't necessary, so I skipped straight to pressing.

Due to Little Bit wrangling issues, I started the cheese making later in the day than intended and so had less time to press it than planned. I was worried that this would mean that the curds would crumble or be too moist, but neither was the case. It was maybe a little softer than it would have been, but otherwise it came out quite well.

The recipe that I decided to make with the paneer - and that I had planned for dinner which was why the short pressing time could have been problematic - was a red pepper curry with fried paneer over the top from Meera Sodha's Made in India. Last time I made this I was living in Greece and attempted it with a non-paneer cheese that went a little too melty in the pan. I was excited to try it with my own paneer this time (which is as close to real paneer as I am likely to get, living in Gruyère). The curry was tasty, and the paneer held together really well in the pan and fried up beautifully. Little Bit decided not to try any, so that was his loss, and I ate his portion instead.

I'd like to try this paneer recipe again, with a different yogurt or maybe using a different type of acid to see how it comes out differently, I am not sure if the problem was that my yogurt was not acidic enough, or that it wasn't thick enough so the acidity was not concentrated enough. A little trial and experimentation should reveal the best method for the ingredients I have available to me though!


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