Making paneer is one of life's small simple joys. I think we're so used to buying all our food we sometimes forget how easy it is to make things yourself: I'm thinking bread, butter, cheese... recipes our grandmothers used to know by heart.
We've made paneer at The Bombay Cook Club a few times, and have been experimenting with adding flavours to it. Here are suggestions for three we made recently, but you can experiment with adding things according to your own preferences once you've mastered the basics.
To make one small round of cheese you will need:
2 litres of full cream milk (you can also add cream as a portion of this for a richer cheese)
3-4 tablespoons of vinegar (we use apple cider vinegar but you can use any type)
1 teaspoon of salt
Bring the milk to boil in a large pan, stirring frequently so the bottom doesn't burn. Once it is boiling, add salt and any flavourings, then add the vinegar and keep stirring. The milk will split into curds and whey very quickly. When it does, take the pan to the sink and strain the curds into a strainer lined with a muslin cloth, or nut milk bag. If you'd like to save the whey, do so, it can be used in baking in place of buttermilk.
Wrap the muslin cloth tightly around the curds and squeeze as much liquid out as you can. Form a pat and place it back in the strainer, with a heavy weight on top of it. Leave for half an hour, then unwrap: you should have a firm block of cheese you can slice, eat immediately, use to make palak paneer, or fry like halloumi.
To make flavoured paneer, you basically need to add your extras to the milk at the same time as you add salt as follows:
RED CHILLI AND CUMIN SEED PANEER
Use 1 teaspoon of red chilli flakes and 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds.
FRESH HERB PANEER
Use 1 tablespoon of a couple of different herbs: we used basil and garlic chives.
Don't add salt to this one. Instead add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, a good pinch of cardamom powder and as much saffron as you can spare: around 1/3 of a teaspoon works. We also added a tablespoon of finely chopped walnuts.
We served our sweet paneer with honey.
You can use your paneer to make palak paneer, from the recipe on this site.