“Paneer is home-made, unsalted, white cheese. It has a fresh farmer’s cheese like quality and a dense, crumbly texture that works wonderfully with the spices of India but equally well with flaky sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of quality olive oil. It is full of virtues; it is a great source of protein, packed with vitamins and minerals and so tasty that even hardened carnivores find it hard to pass up a well-made paneer dish. You can serve it any way you like but one of my favourites is to marinate it in a delicious sauce of herbs and yoghurt, wrap it in up in foil and cook it on the barbecue until hot and steaming.” Anjum Anand, Anjum's Australian Spice Stories
- 2 litres full fat milk
- 200 - 250g plain yoghurt (see note)
- 70 g coriander stalks and leaves
- 25 g mint leaves
- 12 g piece peeled ginger, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) thick Greek yoghurt
- 2 tbsp double cream
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp chaat masala
- ½ tsp carom seeds (optional)
- 1 heaped tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp finely chopped red onion
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time 1 hour
To make the paneer, bring the milk to a boil in a heavy-based saucepan. Once the milk starts to boil and rise up, boil to thicken slightly for 5 minutes or so. Season lightly. Stir in 200 ml of the yoghurt or 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Stir the milk gently to help it curdle, it should only take a minute or so. If it does not separate add the rest of the yoghurt or lemon juice and keep stirring. The curds will coagulate and separate from the watery whey. Remove from the heat.
Line a large sieve with muslin or cheesecloth and place over a large bowl or saucepan. Strain the cheese into the sieve and run some cold water through it. Wrap the cheese in the cloth and hang it off the tap over the sink to allow the excess water to drain for 20 minutes. Then, keeping it fairly tight place the paneer on a shallow tray with a heavy weight on top. Re-fill the same saucepan with the whey or water, place it on top of the paneer and stand for 30-40 minutes or until it is flattened into a firm block. Then cut into cubes or crumble, depending on how you want to use it.
Meanwhile, to make the marinade, using a stick blender, process all the ingredients except the onion until smooth.
Unwrap the paneer, then place on a piece of foil lined with baking paper. Pour a generous amount of marinade all over the top and bottom of the paneer, then sprinkle with chopped red onion. Wrap up tightly and cook on a barbecue hot plate for 6-8 minutes or until steaming when opened. If the paneer has been chilled prior to barbecuing it may take a little longer.
• If you don’t have any yoghurt you can also split the milk using 60-80 ml (¼-⅓ cup) lemon juice instead.
• To store unmarinated paneer, place in a small container, cover in water and refrigerate for up to 1 week. You can also freeze the paneer in an airtight container (although the texture will change slightly and become crumbly). Defrost thoroughly before use.
Visit Anjum's Australian Spice Stories for recipes and more.