Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Homemade Paneer

By: Jennifer Kumar

Yesterday, for the first time, I made homemade paneer, which is homemade cheese cubes.

For those who are wondering, "What is paneer, exactly?" I have an answer for you!
Paneer is tasty, fluffy cheese. It is similar to mozzarella but doesn't melt on pizza like mozzarella would. It is a cheese made in homes mostly in North India with milk and lemon juice. I prefer to substitute vinegar for lemon juice. I have never used lemon juice.

How is paneer eaten?
Once set, it will be fried. Some people like to eat plain, fried paneer. It is very tasty.
It can be added to many dishes, like palak paneer (spinach puree with cheese cubes), shahi paneer or paneer butter masala (onion cashew gravy with cheese cubes), matter paneer (peas and cheese cubes with gravy), paneer fried rice, and others I have yet to learn, also!

I used to purchase ready made paneer from the Indian store and thaw or fry. But, the taste was not really nice as I would like to have. So, I began to ask shop keepers and Indian friends how to make paneer. I was not given a recipe and proper method, but loosely advised that for each quart of milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar is stirred into the milk upon boil. When I did this, few curdles came, but not enough.

So, I searched for a good youtube video which helped me. Basically, it seems this guy doesn't really measure vinegar and keeps pouring little at a time until all milk curdles and the curdles separate from the milk and the liquid left looks slightly greenish or yellowish.

It turns out by the time I got this consistency, about 3-4 teaspoons of vinegar were added. See the helpful video below. Look below the video for update recipe for homemade paneer with details and method!

April 18, 2009
Today I made paneer again. This is how I did it-

1/3 gallon milk (roughly)
2 tablespoons vinegar (or more)

Place milk in a pan and heat.
As it begins to boil, when the froth forms, turn off heat and put in a little vinegar.
What I usually do is take a spoon, stir milk and pour vinegar from the bottle in a thin stream until milk begins to curdle.
The curds will separate from milk, the whey or yellowish water will separate from curds.
Place cheese cloth or old, clean cotton sari or dhoti fabric in a strainer, strain the whey from curds.
Do not throw away the whey. What can be done with paneer water, or whey? Read below.
Press the curds in cheese cloth between two heavy objects and in such a way the moisture will drain from the curds, so that after an hour or so you will have a thick round piece of paneer.
Cut the paneer into cubes and fry in two- three tablespoons hot oil.

Paneer is now ready for your favorite dish or eat hot, fried cheese curds now! YUM!

Ever wonder what to eat palak paneer with? Eat with plain rice, roti, paratha or....rice pilaf. Make a rice pilaf with the left over paneer whey water.

Here's a recipe for Peas Pullao made with paneer water!!

Photos of mouthwatering paneer before and after frying

Delicious Living Magazine - How to Make Cheese in Less than One Hour

Friday, February 15, 2008

Aloo Palak (Potatoes with Spinach)


1 1/2 cups cubed, cooked potatoes (cubes about 1/4 inch)
4-5 oz packaged spinach
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onions (red taste better)
1/8 tsp ginger paste
1/4 tsp garlic paste (or per taste)
2-3 tbspn oil (olive or vegetable)
pinch ajwain seeds
pinch cumin seeds
2 tbspn Chicken fry Masala (spice mix doesn't contain meat)
1/2 tsp garam masala
to taste salt


1. Boil potatoes as you like. Peel and cut into rough 1/4 inch cubes. Set aside.
2. Place onions, ginger and garlic paste in a blender, puree.
3. Boil water, steam spinach until wilted. Drain, puree, and set aside.
4. In a large pan or wok, heat 2 tbspn oil. Add ajwain and cumin seeds.
5. When seeds sizzle or begin to emanate a nice aroma, add the onion puree.
6. Fry the onion puree until the onion smell comes. Add the potatoes.
7. Add the Chicken fry masala and garam masala.
8. Stir fry and until the potatoes turn color from chicken fry masala (a nice red) and also brown from stir frying.
9. Add the pureed spinach. Stir, taste for and add salt per your taste.
10. Turn heat to low and continue heating until the spinach begins to absorb some of the spice taste.

Eat with roti, chappati, or rice. 4-6 servings.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Chole Aloo (Chickpeas with Potatoes)

I created this dish with the desire to do something with one cup of leftover chole masala. The secret to this recipe is that the leftover chole should be a gravy based chole and not one with visable pieces of onion and tomatoes.

1 cup leftover chole masala
2 tbspn olive oil
2 cups diced potatoes
2 tsp chenna masala spice mix
1 cup water
salt to taste
pinch asafeteda


1. Boil the potato with skin on it. After it is boiled, slightly cooled and peeled (I like to slightly cool the potato after it's boiled and peel with fingers, peel comes off easily and no potato peeler needs to be washed!), dice into 1/3 inch cubes.
2. Heat a large wok like pan and keep the olive oil in it. When it heats, add the diced potato. Turn the heat down to one-quarter heat.
3. Lightly fry for a few minutes, add the left over chole mix well.
4. Add the water, chole masala spice mix and asafeteda. Mix well and cover.
5. Stir every few minutes. The mixture will become like a gravy or thick stew. This is good. It should not burn to the bottom of the pan if you keep mixing it and making sure the heat is low.
6. After about 25 minutes, the spices should all combine well, evening out between the chole and potatoes.
7. Taste for and add salt as you like.
8. Eat with rotis, chapati or rice as per your liking.

4-5 servings.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Sambar Powder


1 tbs urad dhal
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
10 methi (fenugreek) seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 dried red chilies, broken
10 curry leaves
8 peppercorns


1. Take all these and fry together until you get an aroma.
Light brown fry is good, don't blacken the seeds.
2. Transfer from pan to cold plate. Allow seeds to fully cool.
3. Grind by hand or in a coffee grinder.**
4. The entirety of this powder can be used to make sambar
for about 15 people.

**I have purchased a coffee grinder that I use only to grind spices.

Do not use the same grinder to grind coffee.

Sambaram - Spiced Buttermilk

This is an amazingly refreshing drink for a hot, sultry day or to cool down a hot-head!


1 cup curd (my favorite pictured below)or 2 cups buttermilk
1 cup water (if using curd)
1-2 curry leaves finely chopped
5 thin slices of a green chili
1 tsp crushed fresh ginger
taste salt

Photo above right courtesy of "Indian Food Rocks" blog post IFR New Finds and Weekend Burgers.

One step drink mix! Place all ingredients in a shaker cup. Shake until frothy. May like to let it set for 30 minutes or so before drinking for all flavors to combine. Filter before enjoying.

Notes: If using buttermilk it is already watery, hence twice the amount of curd is appropriate. If using curd, add an equal amount of water.

Photo left by Krishna Kumar: Me enjoying Milma brand Sambaram. More of our favorite Kerala photos here.

Related Posts: Sambaram – Spiced Buttermilk Cools the Soul (A tribute to my favorite cooling beverage!)