So, in discovering that H had never had Indian food before, I was determined to bring him into a whole new world of culinary delights. But I knew I had to gradually ease him in. I grew up eating chilli & spicy foods, so the aforementioned vindaloo dish would not be an entry point. Not if I wanted to send him away crying, anyway. So I figured I would ease him in; something slightly spicy, but none-the-less tasty.
During my last stint as a vegetarian, I'd discovered the wonder that is paneer. This one ingredient made vegetarian so much exciting. It has a more solid texture than tofu, & if dairy isn't an issue (paneer, for me, thankfully isn't), there's also no need to worry about the possible health implications of consuming soy (for me, personally, I really didn't enjoy tofu if it wasn't very very firm. None of that soft tofu for me. I could never stand the texture. About as pleasing to me as eating pumpkin).
I'd been reading about how easy it was to make paneer. All I needed was a cheesecloth, something I had searched for in Australia, but with no success. Here in Sweden, while wandering through a homewares store, I came across one. Yes! I knew exactly what I would do once I got home.
I cannot find unpasteurised milk here in Sweden; apparently it is against the law to sell it, unless you buy it directly from a farmer. Alas, I know no farmers, but we can buy unhomogenised milk. So I grabbed a litre of that & got to work. Here's how you too can make paneer at home (so easy!)
1 liter unhomogenised milk (or raw milk, if you can get some)
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
cheesecloth (or tea-towel)
1. Place the milk in a saucepan & bring to the boil.
2. Reduce heat to low & add 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. The milk will begin to curdle. Take saucepan off heat & let it sit for another 5 minutes.
3. Place the cheesecloth over a medium-sized bowl, & pour the curdled milk through the strainer. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth & squeeze the cheese a few times, getting rid of as liquid as possible.
4. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together, & hand this over the sink or bowl for 30 minutes. Give the cheese another squeeze & hang for another 15-30 minutes.
5. Your paneer is ready! Feel free to use it now, or refrigerate to use soon.
I'm not sure how long it would last in the fridge, but I would recommend using it within 3 days.
One of the dishes that introduced me to paneer was a dish called Paneer Palak. I made this for H, along with Rogan Josh. The recipe for Rogan Josh will follow this, with directions on how to make the paste from scratch.
Prepared paneer, cubed
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1-2 tablespoons butter or ghee
2 tablespoons water
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 teaspoons ground garlic
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon chilli
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Sautee the onion, garlic & spices in the water for a few minutes. Transfer to a mortar & pestle or a small food processor (a coffee grinder would work well, I used my blender) & grind to a paste.
2. Place the butter or ghee in a fry pan & fry paneer until golden. Add the paste & sautee for a couple of minutes.
3. Add spinach & lemon juice & cook for a few more minutes
Traditionally this is served on a bed of rice, but I grate raw cauliflower, then heat that in the microwave for a minute. Or you could grate the cauliflower, place it in a sieve & steam it over a saucepan of boiling water until hot. Either way, it's delicious!