Decided it was high time I venture into cheese making and recreate one of my very favorite Spreadwing meals! It ended up taking me so long to make the paneer and put the meal together that at one point I shouted, “I’m never making this again!” But the first bite reminded me just how amazing and worthwhile this dish is. So yes, I’m sure I will be making this again soon enough. It ought to go much more quickly and smoothly now that I know what I’m doing.
The paneer recipe is adapted very slightly from 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes by Debra Amrein-Boyes — the cheese making bible around here. It yields a distinctive but delicately flavorful cheese. Fried, it becomes delightfully crispy and delicious, on its own or mixed into the masala, but I also love eating it “raw.”
UPDATE (3/14/2016): Fried up the rest of the paneer today, simply giving a few general flips with the spatula while I got more masala greens ready. Much quicker and simpler. Just wanted to affirm that I think it should definitely be a lot easier in the future.
1 gallon whole milk
1/2 teaspoon cumin (ground or whole)
2 teaspoons salt
4-6 tablespoons lemon juice
Pour milk into a large, thick bottomed pot. Add salt and cumin, and gently bring to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Heating the milk is the most time consuming part of the process, even on medium heat. Look for a slight rippling of the surface, rather than rolling bubbles as with water. Let boil on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat and stir in the 4 tablespoons lemon juice until milk separates into curds and whey. If it does not curdle within a couple minutes, add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and continue stirring. Ladle off as much whey as possible, then pour through a large colander lined with cheese cloth, laid in a large pot to hold the whey until it cools. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible and let sit to drain for an hour or two, or stick in the fridge to drain overnight. Unwrap and use, or store for up to two weeks in the fridge (unlike regular unsalted paneer, which must be used within a few days) or freeze. For this dish, I then cut the paneer it into cubes and fry them until golden and crispy in oil or lard (butter will burn), then mix into to the masala greens. Yum!
A few tablespoons oil or butter
Chopped onion (or leek)
A tablespoon grated ginger, or to taste
Greens of choice
A half to one cup plain tomato sauce, to taste
A few teaspoons each cumin, coriander, and garam masala, or to taste
A teaspoon or two of salt, or to taste
Saute onions in oil or butter until soft and fragrant, then add garlic ginger and cook for a minute more before stirring in tomato sauce, spices, and salt. Add greens and let simmer, stirring frequently, until soft. Adjust seasonings as desired and enjoy!