We rarely eat paneer, ‘cos the storebought block could give Goodyear Tires a run for its money. Bee is kinda indifferent to paneer – doesn’t love it, doesn’t hate it – but J adores it if it is homemade.
See, we are pucca south Indians – the types who put coconut oil in our hair and spell ‘Moon’ as:
Yem-Wo-Yet Anotthar Wo-Yenn.
When Richa announced RCI-Punjab, we were determined to inflict one of those Butter Paneer Mutter Splutter things you get at Delhi Durbar on her. That’s our southie revenge.
‘Cos that’s what we get served without fail under the ‘Punjabi‘ label in restaurants in India, as well as in most desi restaurants abroad. Unless, you go to one of those cool highway dhabas with the coir khatiyas.
Yeah, every Indian restaurant has to have paneer on the menu. Under ‘vegetables’. Three out of the eight ‘veggie’ dishes will be mutilated paneer. Three others will be some bean or lentil thingies smothered under a butter or ghee seasoning. Or Navratan Korma, alias day before yesterday’s curries all thrown into one pot. And this stuff masquerades as “authentic Punjabi food”.
(Ok, this Delhi Durbar menu from Chesham, England cracks us up. Check out the Motor Ponir or Sag Ponir under ‘Vegetable Dishes’. Obviously run by Bangladeshis. For Cripes’ sake, why can’t they serve authentic Bangla food which is quite good, instead of ‘Punjabi’ knockoffs?)
So where were we? Yeah, Butter Splutter Paneer Flutter. Don’t worry, that will follow. Poor Richa, but when she announced this event, she had it coming.
But you gotta make the paneer first.
Moreover, we wanted to demonstrate how to take poorly focused pictures in yellow light bouncing off green walls.
Making paneer is easy, but be warned, waiting for that milk to boil is like watching paint dry. Get a book and a table fan since it’s so blazing hot, and sit somewhere near that stove. Stir the milk every few minutes. Better still, microwave the milk on HIGH for 15 minutes, then put it on the stove. If you don’t have that big of a microwave-safe bowl, microwave 60% of the milk and put 40% on the stove. Then add the microwaved milk to the one on the stove top.
Makes 3 cups cubed paneer
Bring a gallon of whole or 2% milk to the boil in a thick and wide pan. Keep stirring so that it does not burn and stick to the bottom. To speed up the process, microwave it for 15 minutes on HIGH and then put it on the stovetop.
When it reaches 190F or just below boiling point, add 1/3 cup lime juice or distilled vinegar. When it comes to a boil (around 212F), it will start curdling. The cheese will start separating from the whey. The two should split completely. If not, add two more tablespoons lime juice/vinegar. It should end up looking like this.
Carefully strain the cheese curds into a thin cotton cloth or double layered cheesecloth.
Collect the whey in a vessel at the bottom.
It is protein and calcium rich. You can use it to cook rice, lentils or soups. Dough kneaded with whey is soft and flavourful. Or simply spice it up with some chillies, curry leaves, salt and ginger, refrigerate, and have it as a cooling summer drink.
Tip: Use some of this whey for your next batch of paneer instead of lime juice/vinegar.
If you want chenna or soft cottage cheese for rasgullas/rasmalai, etc., simply place it over a strainer or hang it over a sink faucet for 20 minutes.
If you want firm cottage cheese, fold the towel into a squarish shape on all four sides, enclosing the cheese. Put a cutting board in your sink. Place the folded towel with the cheese on it. Place another flat item like a cutting board over it. Then place a heavy object like food cans or a big bowl with water over the top cutting board. This will press down the block of cheese.
Keep it like this for about an hour.
Then open the towel and store the block of cheese in the refrigerator or freezer. Or refrigerate the block for an hour or two (it will firm up further) and cut it into cubes.
If they haven’t firmed up well and are crumbly, put the cubes under the broiler on HIGH in a greased round cake or pizza pan. Keep the oven door slightly open. Rotate the pan every minute or so until the pieces have golden brown specks on them. Then turn them over and repeat.
It’s easier to do this with a round pan rather than a rectangular baking sheet. They will take about 3 minutes on one side, and about 2 minutes on the other.
After broiling, you can store them without breaking. This step is not necessary if the paneer cubes are firm to begin with.
A request from Krishnammal - a Gandhian who has toiled all her life to empower rural women in Tamil Nadu.
The monsoon has arrived, but there are many farmers who don’t have the means to buy seeds to sow their land. A small donation – just 500 Rupees, will benefit a whole family. 5000 Rupees will benefit 10 families. Thirteen dollars, to change the lives in a family forever.
Ammani at Filthy, Funny, Flawed Gorgeous (she also owns the food blog Chai Pani) explains Krishnammals’ life and mission here. These women farmers in Tamil Nadu need help, and they need it NOW to become self-sufficient for the rest of their lives.
ALL THE DETAILS HERE.
We will be posting our check tomorrow.
If you wish to donate, and have a rupee account, do try and send your donation in rupees, so that they don’t lose any money in the foreign exchange conversion process.
On our part, we will post something we never planned to post before. We will, for the next five days, post pictures of recipes we never ended up putting on the site for various reasons. It’s the Jugalbandi Hall of Shame of pictures and posts that never made it. Now we’ll post them and tell you why.
Please think about how you can change a whole family’s life somewhere with a simple deed.