It was recently imparted to me that you can make your own paneer. Call me late to the party, but this is a game-changer. Paneer, or curd, is made by separating milk. A friend demonstrated this the other day, and I couldn't believe how easy it was. Heat milk, add vinegar, milk separates. The heating of the milk reminded me of making Golden Milk , so I thought surely you could make 'Golden Paneer' using a similar turmeric infusion. Turns out, it totally works, and is totally delicious. I riffed off the flavours that I'd use in a turmeric dressing (mustard, apple cider vinegar, honey) and fried the paneer with mustard seeds. Served in a salad it makes the dream springtime lunch - fresh, bright and full of earthy zesty flavour.
I don't eat much cow's cheese, and never drink cow's milk, so I got thinking that goat's paneer was surely just as good as cow's paneer. Basically the same thing as goat's curd, just pressed into a block and then fried. To make the paneer I followed this method, substituting the full fat cow's milk for goat's milk. If you can find full fat goat's milk you'll get a lot more paneer for your money. I could only find semi-skimmed, which works fine, you just get a smaller yield. You'll need a piece of muslin or a nut bag for the straining, and be really careful not to burn the bottom of the milk otherwise you'll end up with brown bits in the paneer.
If you're planning on eating this for lunch, make the paneer a couple of hours ahead so it has time to firm up in the fridge. 2 hours in the fridge is good. Then just pan fry and toss with the salad when ready to serve. The leftover whey is great for a protein-packed smoothie, or can be used in baking, fermenting or even as plant feed.
TURMERIC PANEER SALAD
For the paneer:
- 1.5l organic goat's milk, full fat if possible
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar (white distilled vinegar or lemon juice also works)
- pinch sea salt
- piece of muslin
For the salad:
- big bowl of fresh leaves. spinach works well with the turmeric, as do mustard greens and rocket.
- 1 small fennel, thinly shaved into slices
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds
- 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
- scattering of toasted almond flakes
For the dressing:
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- pinch sea salt
- fresh black pepper
To make the paneer, pour the milk into a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the turmeric. Stir often to prevent it burning and bring to just below a boil - a gentle simmer. While it's heating prepare a piece of muslin over a bowl for straining purposes. When the milk is heated and looks frothy and creamy and is just beginning to simmer, remove from the heat and pour in the vinegar. The curds/paneer should separate from the whey/liquid. Leave it for 10 minutes to separate, then strain through the muslin, catching the whey in the bowl beneath the muslin and the curds inside the muslin. Squeeze the muslin, expelling any excess liquid. Open the muslin on a plate and spread the paneer out. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Now form the paneer into a block, still inside the muslin, and place another plate on top to weigh it down. You can add extra weight, such as a jar or tin, then place in the fridge to set for around 2 hours. If you're pushed for time, you can refrigerate it for less time, the paneer will just be less solid.
When ready to serve, toss the washed salad with the fennel and place into a large serving bowl. Place a medium pan over a medium heat, add the rapeseed oil and mustard seeds. Remove the paneer from the fridge, unwrap and cut into 2cm pieces. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add 1/8 tsp turmeric and a pinch of salt and stir into the oil. Add the paneer and fry each side for 3 minutes. Try not to turn it too much or it can fall apart - mine did. Doesn't affect the taste, you'll just end up with less regular pieces of paneer. When golden on all sides, remove from the heat and set aside.
Mix up the ingredients for the dressing. Dot the paneer over the salad leaves, dress and serve immediately.
Cook time: 15 mins. Prep time: 2 hrs in advance