- 2 litres of milk
- the juice of two lemons
- cumin powder
- big pan, at least 4 litres
- cheesecloth - more of which anon
- wooden spoon
- two chopping boards or similar
You can use a clean dishcloth for your cheesecloth, or any other smooth cotton cloth. Make sure you haven't washed it with fabric softener, and that it's been thoroughly rinsed. If it smells freshly laundered, that's how your cheese will taste!
- Pour the milk into the pan. Add about a teaspoonful of salt, and about a teaspoonful of ground cumin
- Bring the milk to a gentle simmer. Keep it there for about 5 minutes. If you take your eyes off it for a second, it will boil over. If it burns, your paneer will taste funny.
- Remove the simmered milk from the heat, and start to slowly stir in the lemon juice, about a tablespoonful at a time. The milk will begin to curdle. This is "curds and whey". If it doesn't go, add a tiny bit of vinegar.
- Keep stirring and adding lemon juice until the curds are thick masses, and the whey is only slightly cloudy.
- Drain off the whey, keeping the curds.
- Dump the curds out onto the cloth (it will be messy), wrap them up, and squeeze the cloth to get the whey out.
- Open up the cloth and look at the curds. Taste some. If it needs a bit more salt, add some (it should not taste salty). If it needs more cumin, add some (it should be quite subtle). If you feel like adding something else, like chilli, or coriander, or anything, now is a good time
- Fold the curds up in the cloth, in a squarish block. Put the block on one chopping board, place the other chopping board on top, then balance the big pot, full of cold water, on top
After a couple of hours, you will have pressed out all the whey that's going to go. Unwrap the cloth and dump it in the sink. It will need rinsed out and washed almost immediately, otherwise it will smell very sour. Clingfilm the paneer, and it will keep for a couple of weeks.
You can crumble it up onto curries. You can spread it on flat bread. You can even dip it in batter and deep-fry it. It tastes great. You've made cheese.