Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dressing Up Paneer



Cilantro is probably my most favorite herb. I use it almost every day in one form or the other. The subtle flavors it imparts is what I look for. I love the leaves as a garnish. I cook the stems in rasam to give a sudden burst of flavor.

Since most people are familiar with cilantro, I thought I'd mention some lesser-known facts about it here:

1. Coriander is thought to have been introduced to Britain by the Romans as a meat preserver. Coriander seed and leaf was very widely used in medieval cuisine. Even today, coriander seed is an important ingredient in many sausage products. Coriander was brought to the British colonies in North America in 1670 and was one of the first spices cultivated by early settlers.

2. The seeds have a lemony citrus flavour when crushed, due to the presence of the terpenes linalool and pinene. It is also described as warm, nutty, spicy, and orange-flavoured. They are usually dried but can be eaten green.

3. Some people perceive an unpleasant "soapy" taste and/or a rank smell when dealing with cilantro. This is believed to be a result of an enzyme that changes the way they taste coriander leaves, a genetic trait, but has yet to be fully researched
(courtesy Wikipedia)

I've been making paneer at home for about 3-4 months now. I was always a bit apprehensive about it, but it all worked out well the very first try, and I haven't looked back since. Home-made paneer has a lovely crumbly, soft texture which I can't find in the store-bought varieties.

I was minding my own business, making my paneer (and from non-fat milk - a healthy bonus!), when I chanced upon this post by Allen at Eating Out Loud (be sure to check out his blog - its quite amazing). He totally changed my view of paneer.

Deciding that I needed to dress it up, I followed his simple steps but made mine from fat-free milk, added cilantro and went a step further and added crushed walnuts as well (just to give it a little crunch).



Dressed-Up Paneer

1 1/2 liters fat-free milk
Juice of 1 lemon
2 sprigs cilantro leaves, chopped
4-5 walnuts, crushed

You can see a detailed log of making paneer here.

Heat the milk. When the milk has begun to boil, add the lemon juice. It should curdle in a minute or two. If not fully curdled, add more lemon juice. When curdled, strain the mixture and transfer to a muslin cloth. At this point, I added the cilantro and walnuts.

Tie the mixture tight and hang the muslin cloth (I hang the muslin from the tap in my kitchen sink, so the water drains into the sink). Allow to drain for a full 10-15 minutes. Squeeze the muslin once more. It should look something like this:



Now keep the strained mixture under a heavy weight (I used a pressure cooker filled with water!).



Leave it alone for about 1/2 hour. It should now resemble this:




That's it. It came out perfectly. We ate the paneer on wholewheat crackers, with a little chaat masala sprinkled on top (had to introduce a little bit of the Indian element with the chaat masala!). The possibilities for dressing up paneer are endless - I've already tried cumin (jeera); crushed red peppers; bits of apple. Its all been delicious so far!





This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, and originally created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. Thank you for hosting!

32 comments:

Cham said...

wonderful entry, i love the way u dress up the paneer....

Susan said...

This looks quite delicious! Anything with cilantro makes me very happy.

Thanks for contributing to WHB, Arundathi!

Raaga said...

you get flavoured masala paneer in the markets here... and in Gurgaon, it is better to buy paneer than make, you get the softest stuff in the market :-) and low fat!!
But this looks amazing!!

Sig said...

Very innovative recipe Arundhati...Nice to see you in the food blogging world :)

Arundathi said...

@ cham - thanks!

@ susan - thank you and you are very welcome!

@ raaga - thats so cool! haven't come across masala paneer in chennai. but i enjoyed it so much, that i'd quite miss making my paneer! lol!

@ sig - thanks for stopping by, sig! :) i'm trying to be a little better at my food blogging. i think i'm enjoying the photography as much as the cooking!!

Allen said...

Your paneer looks wonderful -- I love the addition of chopped walnuts! There are so many possibilities -- thank you for providing even more ideas ... now I need to go buy some more milk :-)

eliza said...

hi Arundathi, thanks for visiting my blog! i didn't know making paneer isn't so difficult...i myself like cilantro too!

notyet100 said...

thisnis good and something new,,,thnks for sharing the idea,..

bee said...

what a neat idea. this could double us as dessert with some fruit bits in it.

Arundathi said...

@ Allen - your post really inspired me, so thanks to you too!

@ Eliza - Yes, I was pleasantly surprised that paneer was so easy to make

@ notyet - you're welcome! and thanks!

@ bee - yes, it tasted great with apples, so i'm sure most fruit would work.

Divya said...

nice and innovative entry!!!

Arundathi said...

Thanks Divya

vegeyum said...

This looks wonderful and I like the idea of green coriander with paneer. I make paneer about once every 2 weeks and this will be a nice variation.

BTW my father is one of those who can't stand the taste of green coriander, or the smell.

Madhuram said...

Such an interesting recipe. I'm very happy because, now I know that I can make paneer with non fat milk. My husband avoids paneer because of its fat content. I have to try this one definitely. Thanks Arundathi.

Arundathi said...

@ vegeyum - thanks! that's sad for your dad to miss out on such a great spice! i'm sure there are lots of people who don't like it though!

@ madhuram - thanks! actually this is one of the healthiest choices of cheese out there. non-fat, high protein, tasty and versatile.

Kalyn said...

Your dressed up paneer sounds fabulous. I love cilantro as well, so that was a plus for me. BTW, congratulations on winning the book!

Arundathi said...

Hi Kalyn - thanks! it tastes great with the cilantro; and you could try it with fruit - its quite versatile - so thats nice. Thanks on the book! :)

Divya said...

Very Innovative indeed ..I love the way you dress up your paneer

Arundathi said...

Thanks Divya!

Sunshinemom said...

Yummmmm! Lovely!

Arundathi said...

Thanks Sunshine!

Srivalli said...

oh what a wonderful idea girl!..that looks so yummy!...

Arundathi said...

Thanks Valli - its really easy and adds so much taste. You'll enjoy it.

Ranjani said...

This looks really good, I'll need to try it sometime:)

Arundathi said...

Thanks Ranjani!

Jamie said...

Arundathi, Thanks so much for directing me to this post. It's really a great idea. Trust me, I will eat paneer any way possible! I will definitely try this out!

I do have a question though...Do you notice a difference in the consistency of your paneer when you make it with fat free milk? I have tried making it before with FF milk, but I get about half the paneer. I wonder if I am doing something wrong.

Arundathi said...

Jamie - you're right in that you get less paneer out of FF milk than whole milk. And the paneer will be of a more crumbly and soft texture than with whole milk. I prefer the softer texture and just add more weight to make it tighter.

If you can, you can add skim milk powder to the skim milk. This increases the quantity of paneer that you get. The 1.5 liters I used gave me about a cup and little more of paneer... Hope that helps?

Jamie said...

Arundathi - Thanks so much. I will definitely try this the next time I make paneer. I love eating it, however I always feel really guilty using the whole fat milk because of the calories. I think you may have just solved my problem!

Arundathi said...

NP - good luck! :)

Medhaa said...

I love paneer and I love what you have done with it, When mama used to make paneer I would eat it just like that even before dinner was served so she made sure she made extra, I will try this. Thank you for sharing

Arundathi said...

I love it too - just drizzled with some spices. do let me know how it turns out.

Raaga said...

http://chefatwork.blogspot.com/2009/04/italian-style-paneer.html

:)a