It’s hard not to love paneer–the Indian ricotta–unless you’re vegan of course, in which case you have my eternal gratitude for making the world a better place. While paneer is readily available in most Indian groceries, it comes frozen and loses some of its texture by the time it gets to you. By contrast, homemade paneer is remarkably soft, silky, and fresh. I’m a huge fan. It’s also very easy and quick to make, requiring just a couple of ingredients: a muslin cheese cloth, some white vinegar (or lemon juice) and whole milk (preferably organic). The photos for this are not going to be very pretty, but the results will be! This recipe makes about 200 grams of paneer (about 7 oz). What you don’t use, you can wrap in plastic and keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Prep time: 20 minutes
1 cheese cloth
A large strainer
½ gallon whole milk (preferably organic)
1/3 cup lemon juice or distilled white vinegar
A pinch of salt
Heat the milk on high heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir occasionally to make sure that the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom. In the meantime, fold your cheese cloth in half and place on top of a strainer.
When the milk starts bubbling and rising up, turn the heat down to low.
Add the lemon juice, pinch of salt, and stir once or twice. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. You’ll see curdles or chunks forming as the whey and cheese separate.
Strain everything into the cheese cloth, letting the whey drain out, preferably in a pot under the strainer (There are many uses for leftover whey and its packed full of nutrients, so you could keep it, if you want. Here are some ideas: http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2011/06/16-ways-to-use-your-whey.html).
Squeeze out any excess water. Place a heavy pot, such as a dutch oven, on top of the cheese cloth and let sit. Leave this to sit for another 10-15 minutes.
Gently squeeze out any water from the cheese cloth and gently flip over the brick of paneer. Its ready to use!