Homemade Paneer

I used to dream of living on a small hobby farm somewhere in the middle of nowhere, making my own cheese and yarn from my herd of sheep. While the mysteriousness of the city has drawn me in, I sometimes still think about making my own cheese and spinning wool into luxurious yarn. 

I recently went on a road trip to Iowa and passed through the middle of nowhere. Not only does nowhere have a lot of nothing, but it also has a lot of quirky and fun.

This is "Art with a Porpoise." hehehe! Martin is feeding it the free cookie he got from simply checking into a cafe.

Trekkies should beam themselves to this future historic site.

Fountains in our area have not yet come out of their winter slumber, so I was excited to see the first fountain of the year!

The Iowan road trip reminded me that I don't have to live in the middle of nowhere to make my own cheese - I can make it in my own kitchen! After a little research, I discovered that making homemade cheese is actually really easy and fun!

After 101 Cookbooks posted her Saag Paneer recipe, I was inspired to make it with my own homemade paneer. Paneer is a simple fresh cheese commonly used in Indian dishes, my favorite being Navaratan Korma. It's texture is similar to fresh mozzarella but less stringy. Paneer has a really mild flavor, which is perfect in Indian dishes because it lets the complexly-seasoned sauce shine. 

The process for making paneer is really simple and it only requires two ingredients: whole milk and lime juice (or another similar acid). I was totally intimidated by making this cheese and I shouldn't have been. It was super easy.

Homemade Paneer

  1. Put 1 quart of whole milk in a heavy bottom pot and bring to a solid simmer - just under boiling. Stir occasionally to prevent it from scalding on the bottom. Turn off the heat.
  2. Add about a teaspoon of lime juice. This will cause the milk to curdle. Add another teaspoon to begin to separate the curds from the whey. Add 1-3 more teaspoons of lime juice to fully form the curds and leave a clear green liquid (whey). The amount of lime juice is contingent upon your lime's acidity. 
  3. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
  4. Line a medium-sized bowl with a cheese cloth. Pour the curds and whey into the cloth. Gather the sides of the cheese cloth together and tie off with a string. Hang the cheese for about 15 minutes. 
  5. Press the cheese into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle using your hands and keeping it in the cloth. Set something heavy on top of the cheese - like a pot with a jar of dried beans. Let sit for about 1-2 hours.
  6. It is now ready to be used in recipes. Most will call for it to be cut into squares and fried.

I'm still perfecting the texture of my paneer. I've read that it firms up even more if you chill it before using. 

The Saag Paneer recipe I followed called for a spice blend that was super delicious. I'm looking forward to using it in other dishes since I made much more than I needed for the paneer recipe.

From the bottom to the top the spice blend consists of: cumin seed, coriander seed, mustard seed, red pepper flakes, cardamom seeds, and cloves. Pure comfort food. :)