Indian food is one of the oldest cuisines in the world, and most sophisticated in its use of natural, healthy spices and ingredients. Indians have always approached eating with the philosophy that food is your medicine (our ancestors have been cooking with turmeric for thousands of years). This is important knowledge that was passed down from mother to daughter, and we want to keep sharing it.
In my opinion, fresh paneer is one of the easiest and most satisfying things you can make. You can eat it soft, like ricotta, or set it, so that you can cube, fry, use in your palak paneer or marinate and grill on skewers. It’s a healthy source of protein and so quick to make that you will never think about buying it again.
Ingredients (250g of Paneer)
3 litres of full cream milk (non-homogenised or extra creamy is perfect)
1/3 a cup of vinegar (apple cider or white vinegar is fine, or lemon juice)
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of homemade or good quality curry powder
¾ teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Wooden skewers (soaked for half an hour before cooking)
Heat the milk in a large pan on the stove, stirring well. To flavour the paneer, add salt, and you can also add some red chilli flakes, whole cumin seeds, turmeric or fresh herbs. When the milk comes to a boil, pour in the vinegar and keep stirring. The milk will curdle really quickly, and you should stir until the whey has fully separated, then turn off the heat.
Place a piece of muslin, cheesecloth or chux cloth into a mesh strainer in the sink and pour or ladle in the curdled milk. Drain away all the liquid, and squeeze the solids in the cloth into a ball. Keeping it wrapped in the cloth, place it back in the strainer and place a heavy weight on top to weigh it down (I use a stone mortar and pestle). Keep it pressed for half an hour or so, then unwrap to find a solid ball of cheese.
To make the tikka, mix the curry powder, salt, oil and lemon in a small bowl. I use my Spice Mama vindaloo powder because the fragrant mix of chilli, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and bay leaves goes perfectly with the paneer. Cube the paneer and gently marinate in the spice and oil mix, then thread onto skewers. Cook in a hot oven or grill until browned, 10 minutes or so should be perfect.
Serve the skewers with a tomato, cucumber , red onion and green chilli salsa and the green chutney we made last week; stuffed into naan bread or roti.