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Archive for March 16th, 2008

I Made My Own Paneer Cheese!

Sunday, March 16th, 2008


I read on Cosmic Pluto’s weblog about her making her own Indian food, Mattar Paneer. She shared the recipe for making this Indian cheese (it does not melt and is not aged/fermented, a very unusual food). I have not had any aged/fermented foods or yeast/mold category foods since 1991, and thought all cheeses were on the “no-no” list. Imagine my surprise when I heard you could make the cheese and eat it less than an hour later. No aging!

For several years I avoided dairy foods but luckily that rest did my system well and now I can have dairy if it is not aged (I miss my yogurt but I have not missed standard “sour” cheeses at all). Ice cream is a real treat, though it is hard to find it without raw egg as an emulsifier, even in a health food store. Luckily I have found one brand I can get locally and that has been a wonderful delight in the last several months. But I digress.

I love Indian food. When I travel, I seek out Indian restaurants. Even better, I have had several friends, co-workers, students over the years who were from India, and thus I have been gifted with foods from folks’ kitchens, the best ever.

I bought an intro-to-Indian-food cookbook over a year ago but never made anything from it. After I had that week where I could barely drink tea in early February, the first thing I craved when I wanted to eat again, was Indian food. And just a few weeks later, Cosmic Pluto posted the recipe she got from a friend who is Indian. Score!

I went to the Health Food store and got some whole milk. It can’t be ultra-pasteurized to make cheese, but I got some that was regular health-level pasteurized only, and it was even the kind where you have to shake it because the fat rises to the top (not homogenized).

And I made Paneer, and it was pretty darned simple to do. Then I made the vegetable base, Mattar Paneer (green peas in a spiced tomato sauce with chunks of paneer in it) from Cosmic Pluto’s recipe. She had made the recipe more simple than her friend’s version… but since I do not like fussing in the kitchen I sped it up even more. And it was really good, and it made me VERY happy.

You may have to look for the cheese in this photo. Since it does not melt and is white, it may look like pieces of tofu in the sauce there. I think firm tofu may substitute, but the cheese was a real treat for me. I put the sauce on quinoa rather than rice, and we garnished the dish with chopped cilantro. Any fresh herb you enjoy would garnish well, I would imagine. The fresh leaves on top of the smooth and spicy sauce were a great balance.