Thursday, July 7, 2011

How to Make Paneer

I've had spinach in the freezer since late last summer but never got around to making saag paneer, so here is a little paneer making and Indian cooking tutorial. Making paneer is so easy that I did it with my Waldorf 8th Graders as part of the organic chemistry block.

Heat 2 quarts of milk to boiling, stirring constantly, then remove from heat and drizzle in 1/4 c lemon juice as you continue to stir. Curd will immediately begin to form.

Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour the curds/whey mixture in. This picture is after the liquid has been pressed out.

Sorry about the fuzzy picture. Cube the paneer and pan fry it in a little butter (or ghee if you're after authenticity). In the picture it is already dumped on top of the "saag" (spinach) mixture.

My saag paneer recipe...
paneer, fried (see above)
12 oz. spinach, chopped
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T Penzey's garam masala
salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cumin to taste
1 T canned green chiles
2 T buttermilk powder mixed into 1/2 c water
After frying the paneer, add the onion and garlic back to the pan and use the remaining oil to saute. When the onion start to become translucent, add the spinach, chiles, and spices and simmer it until it looks well-cooked. Use a hand blender to puree the entire mixture. Add the buttermilk mixture and simmer until it reaches the desired consistency, tasting and adding additional spices as necessary. Stir in the paneer and serve over rice or with naan.

Q doesn't like saag paneer so I threw together a chicken curry for him. It turned out pretty yummy and was really easy. This was enough for his dinner after adding about 1/2 c. of rice.
4 oz. grilled chicken
1 1/2 c peas (I used frozen)
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
2 T canned green chiles
1 T curry powder
salt to taste
2 T buttermilk powder mixed into 1/2 c water
1/2 t cornstarch
Cook the onion and garlic in a little oil until the onions begin to become translucent. Add the chicken, peas, chiles, and spices. Heat through, sprinkle with cornstarch and mix to coat then add the buttermilk mixture. After the sauce thickens, remove from heat and serve over rice or with naan.


aithon said...

okay, you've got me curious. i think i will have to try this. it looks really good, and i found a recipe for naan not that long ago that i've been wanting to mess with.

is there any special process to pressing the liquid out of the curds? i'm not familiar with playing around in milk solids yet, so i don't know the protocol.

Thanks for the inspiration!

qhartman said...

A nice addition to this curry is some raisins (golden would be more traditional, but "normal" are fine too) or pieces of apple. The occasional sweetness additional texture really adds a lot.

qhartman said...

And nuts. I think there were almonds in there....

Liz said...

The whey almost completely drains out by itself but then I just gather the cheesecloth up and squeeze the curds together to give the mass a little more form. I let it sit for a couple of hours in the fridge afterwards and no more liquid came out.