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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Paneer Masala

What is paneer? It’s the Indian version of cottage cheese except that the milk is coagulated with an acid, not rennet. The milk does not contain any culture either. It’s very easy to make. Take a litre of milk and bring it to the boil. As it is about to boil, turn the heat down a bit and stir in a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar. You’ll notice that the milk starts splitting. As it gets lumpy, put in another teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar and boil for a few minutes. Turn the heat off and strain it through a fine colander or sieve. You can leave the paneer like this, soft and crumbly, or you can put a weight over it and when it’s formed, cut it into cubes. The great thing is, you can make it with skimmed milk and watch your calories! You might be able to pick up packed paneer at Indian stores.

Of course, if you don’t want to go through all this extra work, you could use cubed tofu or mozzarella cheese.

To make the curry:

In 2 teaspoons of oil, put in a little cumin seed, then add ½ a chopped onion and fry till transparent. Add 1 tablespoon of the red masala paste and fry for a minute, then add a cup of water, 1 tablespoon yogurt and bring to the boil. Boil till the gravy is reduced to half, turn down the heat, add the paneer that you made from the one litre of milk and stir gently. After a couple of minutes, turn off the heat and sprinkle chopped cilantro or coriander leaves on top.


Paneer masala tastes great with peas. Boil a handful of peas till soft and add it to the masala before you add the paneer. Or you could blanch a few leaves of spinach and add that after you’ve added the paneer.

This is a great accompaniment to rice or rotis – like the rice roti.

You could also eat it with thin pancakes. Don’t use sugar in the pancake mix, make it a bit thinner than usual, make the pancake, put in the masala and roll up. You might want to make the mixture a little thinker so it doesn’t run.

Paneer masala also tastes good in pita bread. Just stuff it in, add chopped cabbage, chopped onion and enjoy.


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