Paneer

Paneer is home-made, unsalted, white cheese. It has a fresh farmer’s cheese like quality and a dense, crumbly texture that works wonderfully with the spices of India but equally well with flaky sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of quality olive oil. It is full of virtues; it is a great source of protein, packed with vitamins and minerals and so tasty that even hardened carnivores find it hard to pass up a well-made paneer dish.

Makes 250g

2 ltr full fat milk
200-250g plain yoghurt or 3-4 tbs. lemon juice

Bring the milk to a boil in a heavy-based saucepan. Once the milk starts to boil and rise up, stir in 200ml of the yoghurt or 3 tbs. lemon juice. Stir the milk gently to help it curdle, it should only take a minute or so. If it does not separate add the rest of the yoghurt/lemon juice and keep stirring. The curds will coagulate and separate from the watery whey. Remove from the heat.

Line a large sieve with muslin or cheesecloth and place over a large bowl or saucepan. Strain the cheese into the sieve and run some cold water through it. Wrap the cheese in the cloth and hang it off the tap over the sink to allow the excess water to drain for 20 minutes. Then, keeping it fairly tight place on your work surface and place a heavy weight on top, we refill the same saucepan with the whey or water and place it on top for 30-40 minutes or until it is flattened into a firm block. Then cut into cubes or crumble, depending on how you want to use it.

Store any unused pieces in the refrigerator in water and cover. You can also freeze the paneer in an airtight container. Defrost thoroughly before use.