August 29, 2020
Paneer is as simple as fresh cheese gets - a simple curdling of milk usually done by vinegar or lemon juice to obtain clumps. Best made with whole milk, the better the quality of the milk the better the paneer. Milk also takes on the flavors of saffron beautifully, especially cold in panna cotta or a pudding and this baked paneer dish with the tangy tomato masala can be eaten warm, at room temperature or cold.
Serves 3 to 4
1/2 gallon whole milk
Generous pinch of saffron
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup fresh herbs (such as cilantro, basil, or oregano)
Stir the saffron threads into the milk and refrigerate the milk for 24 hours.
In a heavy-bottomed stockpot, bring the saffron milk and salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Just when the foam begins to rise, pour in the vinegar.
Over low heat, simmer the mixture for 5 to 6 minutes. The milk should form big curds, which will rise to the top. This is the whey (the clear liquid in which the curds are floating) separating from the cheese. As soon as the liquid is clear, turn the heat off and let the paneer rest in the liquid for 20 to 30 minutes.
Over the sink, without disturbing the curds, pour out as much whey as possible into a fine mesh colander or strainer. Using a slotted spoon, gently lift curds out of the pot and place on the strainer. Pour the remainder of the liquid over the curds to catch the last remnants. With the back of the slotted spoon, press the curds lightly to squeeze the liquid out and set the whey aside for another use.
Refrigerate the pressed paneer (in colander) for 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease a small baking sheet or dish and flip the paneer over directly onto it. It may be wobbly and if any part of it falls apart, press it back into place. Place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. In the meanwhile, prepare the tomato masala.
Heat the olive oil and watching carefully add the minced garlic and coriander seeds. The garlic will turn white and slightly golden and the coriander seeds will pop and turn slightly darker.
Add the tomatoes, black pepper and salt immediately and cook on medium heat for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and the mixture has come together.
Spoon the tomato masala over the baked paneer. Top with herbs and serve.
Coriander seeds and garlic are particularly susceptible to burning, resulting in bitter unpalatable flavors so do take care when cooking them.
Whey is a very good source of protein that can be turned into a drink (substitute water in a lassi) or added to bread instead of water.
Experiment with different spices in paneer like whole ajwain or cumin seeds
December 02, 2022