Paneer is an unaged cheese with a very mild flavor, does not melt when cooked and is quite easy to make at home. This cheese is an acid set cheese, which means that the cheese is curdled and set with the assistance of an acid such as lemon or lime juice, rather than Rennet and Bacteria, as is the case with most cheeses. Paneer is also considered to be a fresh cheese, and it is never aged. Since it is made with whole milk, it is also very high in protein, making it a sound addition to a vegetarian diet.
Paneer is also used in preparation of popular desserts because of its delightful texture – and complete lack of salt – making it an ideal base for sweet recipes.
Nowadays Paneer is readily available in the frozen aisle of your supermarket; but it is very easy to make at home. Want the recipe for home-made Paneer ? Here goes. Boil about 8-9 cups of milk in a heavy bottomed pan, stirring occasionally. When the milk comes to a boil, add ¼ cup lemon juice gradually and stir the milk gently. The curd will start separating from the whey, turn off the heat. Keep aside for 10-15 minutes and drain the whey using a muslin cloth. Rinse under cold water and squeeze well. Press the wrapped paneer under a weight for about 1-2 hours and refrigerate. Cut into cubes or strips and use as required in the recipe.
I have quite a few Paneer recipes in my recipe book, but today its the turn of Paneer Butter Masala. Here is my recipe…please try it and dont forget to put in a comment…..
500 grams of Paneer
(Marinate cubes/rectangular strips of Paneer in 1 tablespoon red chilli powder, 3 tablespoons yogurt, 3 teaspoons Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves-crumbled), little salt and 1 tablespoon of oil. Keep aside for 10 minutes. Take a little oil in a non-stick pan and shallow-fry the paneer cubes. Remove and keep aside in a covered bowl).
For the Masala/Curry :
3 tablespoons garlic paste, 4/5 tablespoons ginger paste, 4 cardamoms, a stick of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon fenugreek/methi seeds, 2 tablespoons Kasuri methi (dried Fenugreek leaves –I used ‘Shaan’ brand), 7-8 big tomatoes blended to a puree in a mixer till smooth, 3 tablespoons tomato paste (not sauce), 1 tablespoon red chilli powder, ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder, green chillies (3), ¼ cup butter, 1 tin heavy cream (use Puck/Nestle), 1 onion (cut into cubes), 2 capsicums (1 green and 1 red – cut into cubes), 2 tablespoons almond paste, 1 tablespoon sugar.
Heat the butter ( add 1 tablespoon oil as well to avoid the butter getting burnt), and add cinnamon, cardamoms and Methi seeds and sauté for a minute, then add ginger garlic paste and fry for sometime. Add chili powder and salt and fry till the masala is well fried. Add tomato puree, tomato paste, slit green chilli, cinnamon powder and Kasuri methi (crumbled). Simmer till the masala is well fried and you will see that the oil and the masala separate in the pan. At this stage add the onion and capsicums, almond paste and sugar and fry for sometime. Add the fried paneer cubes and stir gently. Fry for a minute or two till the paneer is evenly coated with the masala. Add water and adjust seasoning (like salt, chilli etc) (have a thickish curry) and allow to simmer for sometime.
Lastly add cream, stir gently and simmer for a minute. Turn off heat. Serve with hot chappaties or rice.