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Paneer- Indian milk cheese


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Actually paneer was the first Indian food that I had encountered, other than mom's exceedingly anglicized version of chicken "curry". Oh, or those stuffed Indian breads from the little carts across from the university.... :wub:

My parents took the family to an Indian place in Austin some 8 or so years back. I was very excited, as it seemed so exotic. I was 24 or so, I guess. My mother had been the week before for the lunch buffet, and was able to guide us through our ordering. At the time I was a practicing vegetrian, with the exception of eating lamb. I have never, and will never give up lamb. Ever. So.... (told you I was just practicing :raz: )

Mother suggested that I might perhaps like the palak (saag?) paneer.

I did. And then some. I was facinated by the spices. It was possibly the best thing that I had ever put in my mouth. Even better than really good lamb.

It was creamy, spinachy and had some heat, some corriander, and that was about all I could discern. Then there were these lovely square chunks of.... something. Paneer, the menu said. I chewed. Kinda like tofu, but with flavor! It didn't melt in the spinach, so what was it? Creamy, slightly pungent, chewy... I liked it. Loved it.

So we asked the waitress what was paneer, anyway? Cheese! Well no wonder we loved it so.

From that day forth, I sought out Indian food wherever I could. I was a convert, and nothing else would do. I lived in a culinary wasteland, then moved to another culinary wasteland, with a very brief stay in Austin in between. I could not find Indian food to save my life. I had to go to Austin every time I needed my fix.

So I got an Indian cook book for Christmas. My only specification was that it HAD to have a recipe for paneer in it. This was before my internet days.

Sometime in that next early January, I made my first batch of paneer. It was so easy!. It was so good! I totally lacked confidence to even attempt to make other Indian dishes. After all, I wanted *real* Indian food. I didn't want to run the chance of americanizing, nessifying it, until I at least understood the basics of what made Indian cuisine Indian. I met a wonderful friend in Chicago who was from India. She took me under her wing and into her mother's kitchen. She broadened my horizons by tenfold. She taught me about the various breads, about pickles :wub: and the different grains. She showed me how to make a few dishes and gave me sort of an Indian 101 class. She even took me to local Indian groceries and helped me get familiar with the spices and other ingredients. I will forever be thankful for her and her mother's instruction. Its taken a couple more years of fiddling but I've finally branched away from paneer and ventured into making things like chana masala, curried potatoes and greens, vada etc.

I will never EVER tire of learning about different cultures and their foods.

I have sooooooooooooo much more to learn.

But my first love is paneer.

So thank paneer for taking me a step further in my culinary explorations!

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Actually paneer was the first Indian food that I had encountered, other than mom's exceedingly anglicized version of chicken "curry". Oh, or those stuffed Indian breads from the little carts across from the university.... :wub:

My parents took the family to an Indian place in Austin some 8 or so years back. I was very excited, as it seemed so exotic. I was 24 or so, I guess. My mother had been the week before for the lunch buffet, and was able to guide us through our ordering. At the time I was a practicing vegetrian, with the exception of eating lamb. I have never, and will never give up lamb. Ever. So.... (told you I was just practicing :raz: )

Mother suggested that I might perhaps like the palak (saag?) paneer.

I did. And then some. I was facinated by the spices. It was possibly the best thing that I had ever put in my mouth. Even better than really good lamb.

It was creamy, spinachy and had some heat, some corriander, and that was about all I could discern. Then there were these lovely square chunks of.... something. Paneer, the menu said. I chewed. Kinda like tofu, but with flavor! It didn't melt in the spinach, so what was it? Creamy, slightly pungent, chewy... I liked it. Loved it.

So we asked the waitress what was paneer, anyway? Cheese! Well no wonder we loved it so.

From that day forth, I sought out Indian food wherever I could. I was a convert, and nothing else would do. I lived in a culinary wasteland, then moved to another culinary wasteland, with a very brief stay in Austin in between. I could not find Indian food to save my life. I had to go to Austin every time I needed my fix.

So I got an Indian cook book for Christmas. My only specification was that it HAD to have a recipe for paneer in it. This was before my internet days.

Sometime in that next early January, I made my first batch of paneer. It was so easy!. It was so good! I totally lacked confidence to even attempt to make other Indian dishes. After all, I wanted *real* Indian food. I didn't want to run the chance of americanizing, nessifying it, until I at least understood the basics of what made Indian cuisine Indian. I met a wonderful friend in Chicago who was from India. She took me under her wing and into her mother's kitchen. She broadened my horizons by tenfold. She taught me about the various breads, about pickles :wub: and the different grains. She showed me how to make a few dishes and gave me sort of an Indian 101 class. She even took me to local Indian groceries and helped me get familiar with the spices and other ingredients. I will forever be thankful for her and her mother's instruction. Its taken a couple more years of fiddling but I've finally branched away from paneer and ventured into making things like chana masala, curried potatoes and greens, vada etc.

I will never EVER tire of learning about different cultures and their foods.

I have sooooooooooooo much more to learn.

But my first love is paneer.

So thank paneer for taking me a step further in my culinary explorations!

Nessa - thanks so much for sharing this delightful story. It really is inspiring to read and it does bring out the fact that Indian is not hard to prepare at home. Once you understand the basics of spicing and how to use the right ingredients.

So which paneer dish do you love to prepare at home?

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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I make the saag paneer according to Madhur Jaffre's recipe, and sear a pound of 2" lamb cubes with garlic and black pepper until they're compleltely browned, then add them to the saag and simmer for an hour. Soul satisfying!

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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I have found that it is the perfect finger food (raw) for the baby. I use the rest in mattar paneer or kadai paneer- sauteed paneer with onions, green pepper, tomatoes and spices. Sometimes I just crumble it up in a salad. Good stuff.

Melissa

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SUSAN! Oh. MY. GOD. That sounds so perfectly delightful combining so many of my favorite things in one dish. Thats it, I gotta make it!

Monica... I usually stick with Saag/Palak paneer, which to me, is a creamed spinach with paneer. Thats when I actually have any paneer left to cook with :unsure: . I'm guessing that they are the same dish from different regions?

I think that when cooking any new cuisine, you have to develop a palate for it, and understand its components before you can stray from the recipe path. I'm not *quite* there with Indian food, though I'm *this* close.

With Asian food, I can now, instinctively know that if I throw this that and the other together, its gonna be good. With Indian, I'm still treading carefully as I slowly get more experimental. My usual modus operandi is to taste a new dish at a restaurant, get the name, and try and recreate it at home. Then I tweak.

I'm trying to not get stuck in a spice combo rut. My last experiment was parippu vada. I had one at my local mom and pop shop, and they were kind enough to tell me in general terms what was in it. So I went hunting and comparing online. Mine doesn't taste as good as the first one I had, but I'm addicted none the less.

Next, its going to be lamb saag paneer, thanks SO much for the idea, Susan!!

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How do you like to use Paneer?

...

Do share with us your secrets of the perfect Paneer dish

My favourite is paneer makhanwala - basic ingredients are paneer, tomato and cream. I honestly don't remember where this recipe comes from, so I wasn't sure whether I should post it. It is great with naan or roti.

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I have made paneer before, I like to eat it raw! And, I think it's fun to watch the milk curdle.

Toasted: that's odd, I too thought it would make great baby snacks. Have you fed it to a baby before?

Noise is music. All else is food.

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I have made paneer before, I like to eat it raw! And, I think it's fun to watch the milk curdle.

Toasted: that's odd, I too thought it would make great baby snacks. Have you fed it to a baby before?

No, I never fed it to the other kids but with the 3rd one anything goes! The baby loves it and can pick it up in his little fingers and I know exactly what is in it so I think it's ok.

Melissa

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I used to feed it to my son all the time when he was little. Small bits at a time are easy to digest and that time he gobbled it up.. ofcourse those were the days he ate squash and broccoli too.

My mother makes potatoes stuffed with seasoned paneer and then deep fries them... she then serves them in a makhani sauce with lots of tomatoes and cream. It is simply delicious.

We did a recipe in one of the eGCI classes with Paneer... has anyone tried it out. I use that recipe a lot.. it is simple and perfect for Monday nights

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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