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Paneer (fresh cheese) (this amount, when mixed with vegetables, will serve 6)

1 quart whole milk
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Bring the milk to boil. As soon as it begins to bubble, put in
the lemon juice, stir once, and take the pot off the heat. Leave
it for 15 minutes. The milk will curdle and the curds will separate
from the whey.

Strain the curds through 3 layers of cheesecloth. Squeeze out as
much whey as you can easily (do not discard the whey, refrigerate
and use for cooking instead of water, if you like). Tie the curds
in the cheesecloth, using twine to make a small, round bundle.
Use sufficient twine, as you now need to hang up this bundle
somewhere to drip overnight (hanging it on the tap over the sink
works well).

Next morning, remove the hanging bundle and untie it. Gently
flatten it out to make a 4-inch/10 cm patty, keeping the cheese
loosely wrapped in the cheesecloth. Put the cheesecloth-wrapped
cheese patty on a sturdy plate and place a very heavy object on
top of it. I use one of my very heavy, porcelain covered cast iron
pots filled with water. If the pot seems to be in danger of tipping,
I balance it by standing appropriately sized jars under its handles.
Leave the weight on the cheese for 4 to 5 hours. After the cheese
has been pressed, it should be cut into diamonds or rectangles,
with a very sharp knife, about 1 inches/2 1/2 cm long each.

Notes: Paneer, once made, is quite crumbly and breakable. Because
of this, it is generally fried and lightly browned before it is
cooked. It is a good idea to do this frying in a well-seasoned
cast-iron or nonstick pan, as the cheese tends to stick a bit.
There are some dishes where the cheese is not fried at all. Rather
like bean curd, fresh paneer has very little taste of its own. It
does have texture, and lots of protein. The taste comes from the
flavours of the foods with which it is cooked. In a very traditional
dish from the Punjab, paneer is combined with peas and tomatoes.
It is frequently cooked with pureed spinach. It can also be crumbled
and added to various grated vegetables to form "meatballs". It
can be crumbled, layered with partially cooked rice, and baked.


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