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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Paneer At Home

Cubes of grilled paneer. See the recipe
below. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
Marketing Board.

 

It’s not easy to make most cheeses at home. But it is surprisingly easy to make paneer, a fresh cheese popular in Indian and other South Asian cuisines that ports nicely into Western fare.

Paneer does not melt when heat is applied; it’s comparable to feta, halloumi and queso blanco in this way. It is also made without rennet,* and thus is a great protein source for vegetarians.

Chef Johnny Gnall learned to make paneer at a Aslam’s Rasoi (rasoi means “kitchen” in Hindi), one of San Francisco’s most popular prominent Indian restaurants. He’s become a real fan of paneer.

At the restaurant, chef Mohammed Aslam uses paneer in many of his dishes; one of the most popular is Saag Paneer, puréed spinach, fried paneer, herbs, spices and aromatics (here’s a recipe). The creamy texture of the spinach is complemented well by the supple paneer in this traditional Indian dish, but there’s no need to stick to the playbook when preparing paneer at home.

 

*Rennet is the animal enzyme used to coagulate most other cheeses, although some cheeses are now made with vegetarian rennet.

Make paneer at home with this easy recipe.

It takes 24 hours for the block of cheese to harden, but the steps themselves are simple, as are the ingredients: milk, cream, vinegar and a piece of cheesecloth.

HOW TO USE PANEER IN EVERYDAY DISHES

In eggs. Cut paneer into very small cubes and fold into scrambled eggs; or sprinkle liberally over the top of a frittata or quiche before baking. Add some freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to make things pop; or try roughly chopped herbs to add some green and bright flavor. Alternatively, grill or fry a slab of paneer and top it with a fried or poached egg. It’s a different way to indulge and branch out at brunch.

 

Paneer can be used raw or cooked. Raw, it has a mild and delicious flavor. Fried or grilled, it has its own special charms.

Beyond Indian recipes, here are our favorite ways to use paneer in popular Western dishes. In most cases, you can use the paneer raw or grilled/fried. The cheese has no overwhelming flavors to conflict with other ingredient, and its texture is pleasant at any temperature.

In salads. Less salty than feta but with a similar texture, paneer adds a bit of richness to any salad. You can cut it into cubes or simply crumble it with your hands. Its mildness enables it to work with just about any combination of ingredients or dressings.

 

Raw paneer. Photo courtesy iGourmet.com.

 

In a sandwich. You need little more than some crusty bread, a little olive oil and paneer to make a delicious sandwich. To add more layers of flavor, the sky’s the limit. The beauty of paneer is its mildness, which allows it to complement just about all meats and vegetables. Charred peppers, wilted spinach and lightly seasoned paneer make for a delicious combination. Sprinkle some curry powder on sliced chicken or turkey breast (or thinly sliced lamb), add some paneer, and you’ve got a sandwich worthy of a top Delhi deli!

With roasted vegetables. From peppers to carrots to tomatoes to potatoes, roasted vegetables pair well with paneer. All you need to do is crumble some onto the vegetables as soon as they come out of the oven. Not only does paneer add variety to the way you serve vegetables, but kids usually love it.

In soups and stews. The fact that paneer doesn’t melt makes it ideal for soups and stews. Simply cut it into cubes, or even slabs, and drop them into the soup just before serving. It adds some richness and creamy mouthfeel to a soup without significantly altering the flavor profile. Alternatively, you can fry the paneer first. Just blot it on a paper towel before you add it to the soup, to remove excess oil that would otherwise end up floating on the surface of the soup.

Have fun with paneer!

  





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