Tuesday, May 1st, 2018
Those of you who follow me will know that I have done a demo with Martin Moyden using his cheese to make parathas, this has resulted in lots of you asking me about paneer, delicious Indian cheese which is an acquired taste.
Last year, at Shrewsbury Food Festival, we used fresh milk which Martin Moyden uses for his cheese and the group of twenty made it into paneer and then turned the paneer into parathas (flatbreads) with a tomato dip, it was very special.
I did the same dish as a demonstration for you all at the Field to Fork Festival, my version of a spicy cheese toastie, but I used Moyden’s fresh cheese that he had made especially for us to cook with, it was perfect with a tomato/pepper/chilli dip.
The love of paneer in the Western world has surprised me because when it’s served in restaurants, it’s a little rubbery so I tend to stick to the homemade version which is so simple to make, it’s a softer texture and soaks up all the delicious flavours you add to it.
For paneer, bring a litre of milk to boil in a big pan and as it begins to bubble, watch it so it doesn’t boil over, once boiled, you can turn the heat off, add 2 tbsp of lemon juice, give it a good stir and allow the pan to rest for five minutes. Now, have a cheesecloth, muslin cloth or tea towel in a colander and drain the cheese into the colander, allow to sit for a couple of minutes. Hold the cloth together and form a ball. You need to drain the water so you place the cheese in its cloth on the draining board of your sink and weigh it down, I usually fill the pan with water. Let it drain for an hour and then you can crumble it into your curry sauce, fry it in cubes for muttar paneer style curry, or use it for your Indian desserts.
Here’s a list of some simple uses for Paneer, Indian cheese.
Parathas are very popular with Asian families. They can be simply cooked with a touch of butter to create layers or stuffed with potatoes, vegetables, paneer. When I stuff parathas, I make two disks of dough, pop the filling on one disk, stick them together and roll them out to dinner plate size and shallow fry (in butter if you dare) serve with a spicy pickle or dip.
Here’s a version of my paratha recipe, made with pumpkin of all things:
When I make my cheese or paneer parathas, I very simply season the cheese with chilli or chef crush (my own blend of crushes spices, cumin, coriander, chilli flakes, black pepper and fennel seeds.) Cheese toasties have never tasted so good!
Fancy making a muttar paneer curry, use my Curry Masala or Cardamom Kick. Simply fry 2 onions, a touch of salt, maybe fresh ginger and garlic, half a tin tomato, a splash of water, anytime the pan goes dry, allow the bubbles of oil to come through the sauce. Be patient, it’s so worth the wait. Add cubes of fried paneer (500g) and a handful of peas into the sauce, saute for 5 minutes, again allow for those all-important bubbles of oil to pop through the sauce. Pour in a mug of boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes until you have a lovely sauce. Check seasoning Finish with some fresh coriander, maybe a little butter or cream. Serve with flatbread and rice, it’s a perfect thalli (lots of little plates) dish. I like to pop in a couple of potatoes, which soak up flavour from the sauce.
To turn your curry into a korma, just add some ground almonds and a tin of coconut milk. I still sometimes add an extra chilli. That’s the beauty of home-cooking, isn’t it?
Here’s the recipe to the paneer korma:
For a simple spiced baked dish, my homemade Tandoori masala over some paneer with a pinch of salt, a drizzle of oil and baked is totally delicious, serve with salad and lots of your favourite dressing, mint, spinach, coriander and yoghurt, spiced with some garam masala, sugar and salt is a great combination.
Chef Crush spiced pakoras, well a teaspoon of chef crush, 4 tablespoons of chickpea flour, a pinch of salt and a block of chopped paneer, deep fry and you have a crispy coating on your paneer.
Paneer is a versatile ingredient in its’ own right, it’s a popular cheese in Northern India you can make and cook in record time. It can be a dessert and easily spices up to take on flavours and I would recommend you try making it at home.
Please get in touch if you need any further advice.
Have a great Paneer week, please get in touch if you have any questions.
Lajina Leal, Founder, Lajina Masala
Lajina had a Corporate Career as an Accountant for many years and whilst discussing an impending redundancy in an Indian restaurant with her friends, they persuaded her to set up an Indian Cooking School.
The fun started in October 2013 and the business has grown from strength to strength.