When I shifted to Thane from Dadar after my marriage, I was a little disappointed as Thane did not have any supermarkets. Mumbai had everything at Crawford Market! At that time the contrast was stark. We had bad roads, no supermarkets, no shops for womens' jeans or any western outfits for that matter!! Thane was more a small town than a city!!Then, in 1998, T S Chandrashekhar, took over as the Municipal Commissioner, and brought about major changes in a mere run of 10 months. (Yay! More power to such men!). He gave Thane its change over - Footpaths, concrete roads, in other words - he gave it life!! He had ordered the demolition of 20,000 unauthorised constructions and encroachments coming in the way of public projects. Read more here. Now except for heavy cream I find all other things here - There is even a probability of a planetarium nearby!In those olden times I missed fresh paneer - I had to get it all the way from the Aarey booth at Andheri, where I worked then. It was because of the unavailability and because I don't like Amul's frozen malai paneer that I tried making paneer at home. Now I find it easy and it seems silly to have thought it difficult and OMG how I used to pine for it!! (lessons of adversity....!!)The post in my series of 'food essentials' is for all those people who have not cooked much and have just got into it. I have tried to explain with pictures to clear up any doubts. Hope someone finds it useful!!Paneer is a milk product also known as cottage cheese as it was usually made in cottages from any milk leftover after making butter. it is a case of a good thing made from leftovers!! Paneer is made in different ways for different preparations.For sandesh where you need extremely soft paneer it is best to curdle it using a cup of plain curd/yogurt for a litre of cow's milk/skimmed milk. For all Bengali sweets toned milk is the best choice for making paneer.If you need it for a mughlai dish or something royal use full cream milk (Buffalo's) and curdle it with citric acid, half a lime or vinegar for a litre of milk. Cow's milk is good too but it will not be as creamy as the former. This produces a slightly crumbly textured paneer which sets better than the one curdled with curd!! This is from my experience - so if yours is different from mine please do not hesitate to offer your views in the comments form!!Ingredients for paneer (As in gravies and curries)Full cream Buffalo milk - 1 litreWhite synthetic vinegar - 5tbsp.Water - 4 to 5 tbsp. to dilute the vinegarSalt - To be added to the boiled milk
Option 2 : Mix juice of half a big lime to equal quantity of water instead of vinegar
Option 3 : Use 1 to 2 cups of whisked curd/yogurt instead of vinegar or lime.
Option 4 : Dilute citric acid crystals in water and use the same quantity as vinegar instead of it.
1. Boil the milk till it comes up. Add salt and mix.
2. Remove from fire and add the diluted vinegar / citric acid soln. / lime soln. or Curd, pouring it little by little stirring the curdling milk all the while gently till the clear whey separates and you can see the curdled mixture settling separately.
3. Stop adding any more solution as it will make the paneer tough.
4. Strain the curdled mixture through a big - eyed sieve and wash under running tap water to get rid of the sour smell of vinegar or citric acid or lime. Curd does not leave a smell usually unless it has turned sour.
5. Place the sieve on a plate and place a weight or about 1kg on it in such a way that the pressure spread over the entire area uniformly. I have placed a 1/2l. vessel filled to capacity with water and which fits into the sieve compactly followed by my wooden cutting board over it to ensure that it is heavy - Do not add more weight - The paneer will lose its milky aroma!
6. After about 30minutes remove the weight, and unmould the settled block of paneer.
7. Cut into desired shape and use.
I have already made and posted recipes for paneer makhani
. Please see the method for paneer for Bengali sweets in the rasgulla recipe.
Labels: Cuisine - North Indian, Type - Basic