The Indolent Homesteader: Paneer

When we first entered into coupledom, my husband and I had to make some changes. Before we met, one of his most favorite meals (besides his mother’s cooking, of course) was chicken simmered in Trader Joe’s Curry Simmer Sauce.
He’d rhapsodize about it every time we passed that sauce in Trader Joe’s, no doubt feeling just the tiniest pang for his bachelor days.
You’re probably wondering at this point, “Why didn’t you just make the poor man his chicken and simmer sauce?”
Well, remember those changes I mentioned?
My husband had to adjust to the fact that I don’t eat meat. (Well, not usually. There’s a complicated moral calculus that goes into what animals I eat that exhausts even me–don’t worry, I won’t bore you with it, or start singing “Meat is Murder”. šŸ™‚ )
Which brings me to paneer. Paneer is a soft Indian cheese and one of my most favorite foods ever. I don’t think I’ve ever had a paneer dish I didn’t like.
But cheese making intimidates me. It requires rennet, and aging, and dank French caves, and speciality molds. Cheese making was one of those things I’d attempt when I have more free time. And a goat and a sheep. (So, never.)
Since paneer is cheese and exceptionally delicious, it must be exceptionally difficult to make, right?
Wrong. I found a recipe for paneer in Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian and was surprised at how dead easy it was.
It goes like this: Boil about a half gallon of milk. (Having a full half gallon of milk on hand is the hardest part of this recipe.)
When it boils, turn off the heat and stir in vinegar a tablespoon full at a time, until the curds separate from the whey. (About three tablespoons usually.)
Strain the whey and press the curds until they’re at the desired firmness.
And that’s it–you’ve got paneer.
I like to cook it up with some onion and peas and that simmer sauce my husband loves, then serve over rice.
The peas are frozen and the sauce is from a jar, but it still feels a bit decadent, because I made the cheese.
I think my husband still wishes it were chicken though.

5 responses to “The Indolent Homesteader: Paneer

  1. I have never been to an Indian restaurant and not eaten the sag paneer. Hurrah for paneer!

    • Anytime I get adventurous and order something besides paneer, no matter how good it is, I’m always a little regretful I didn’t get the paneer.

      • That’s funny. The BFF and I have a favourite evening: Indian food and a movie. We go through the whole menu, consider ordering something we haven’t had … and order the sag paneer instead every time!

  2. Not living in a place where you can buy paneer at the grocery store is a drag, but I hadn’t realized it was so easy to make. I’m going to have to try this.

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