Here I am.   I made it to the second challenge of Project Food Blog.  Wow, that’s really an achievement taking into consideration that almost 2000 food bloggers have now been eliminated down to 400.

I am now posting from Cyprus but as I don’t have an internet access at home, I won’t be able to visit until I come back to Athens, next week.  Thank God, I had prepared this post before I left from Athens, just in case.

The second challenge is to create a classic ethnic dish from another culture, keeping it as authentic as the original and to document why we chose this dish, after research and to document our experience, through a compelling post.

To be frank my first choice was to make a Romanian dish, inspired by my friend Simona, of Alison’s trials.   However, Simona blogs in Romanian and have not managed to make a recipe from her blog as google translator gives you an idea of what is written but it is not trustworthy.  I have seen a lot of funny translations, such as the example I can remember, where  the French word pêches, (peaches) is translated into fisheries, as it also means to fish.   I communicated with Alison and asked her to suggest a few traditional Romanian recipes in English.  She was kind enough to send me a few links which were wonderful recipes, such as Aubergine salad zacusca,  piftie or racitura (meat jelly) or stuffed cabbage rolls or a sweet Cheese Pie, which I found after google searching.   However, we make similar recipes in Greece Melitzanosalatapichti or zalatina, lahanodolmades,  and tyropita.

As the challenge specifically requests us to pick a dish we are not familiar with and to get out of our comfort zone I decided to explore Indian cuisine.  I remembered having bookmarked a lot of recipes during the three years of blogging and going through the list, it was like fate.  I bookmarked this recipe from my friend Soma’s blog e-Curry exactly a year ago.  I always wanted to make paneer, so paneer I was going to make.

For those of you who are not aware, paneer (Hindi: पनीर panīr, from Persian پنير panir) is a type of  fresh cheese  made from milk and lemon juice, or other acids such as vinegar, «live» yoghurt, kefir culture or from the whey of previously made paneer.

Paneer is a white, soft cheese, similar to the Greek cheeses called anthotyro, myzithra or anari, the Mexican queso fresco, the Italian ricotta and it is also made in many other countries, as well.  This type of cheese are made from cow’s or ewe’s milk – and/or goat-milk whey. After making hard cheeses such as kefalotyri, graviera, halloumi. mozarella etc., additional milk is added to the whey and the soft cheeses are produced.    Unlike the above cheeses, paneer is vegetarian as it does not involve the use of rennet, but the milk curdles after the addition of the acid.  Lots of Hindus are vegetarians, so this cheese provides a good source of protein.

Paneer is used in curries, served with spinach (palak paneer) or peas (mattar paneer), wrapped in dough and deep fried (paneer majestic), paneer tikka (a vegetarian version of chicken tikka, paneer placed on skewers and roasted), kadai paneer,  shahi tukda (a dessert made by frying paneer),  Rasmalai, etc., as well as in other desserts like Sandesh, which my friend Soma made, from where I bookmarked the recipe.   I would love to make this recipe soon, but I will have to see if I can find some molds first.

Making paneer was very easy but you have to be extra careful when heating the milk, to mix it regularly so that it does not burn and stick to the bottom.  If you are afraid it will burn, use a double boiler, to be on the safe side.  I’ve read that you add the acid at 190o F -  88o C but as I do not have a thermometre, I added it as soon as I saw steam coming from the pan.  At boiling point it will start producing the curds.  Keep mixing with a wooden spatula for about five minutes and then line a colander with cheesecloth and strain.

If you want the cheese to be soft and granular, fifteen minutes are enough to drain most of the fluid.  You can used this soft cheese to make cheesecakes or wrapped in phyllo and fried, bourekia as we call them in Greece or a savory cheesecake, like the one I made.

In order to have a firm cheese which can be cut, sliced, fried etc., after folding the cheese in the cheesecloth, add some weight on top and leave it to drain for 5 – 6 hours.

(Note:  At this point you can incorporate the herbs and spices in the cheese and then drain).

Apart from using the whey to make paneer again, the second time I made it, I used it to make a rice pilaf, which added a wonderful taste to the rice and I think it would also be great to boil pasta in it.

I loved the experience of making my own cheese and look forward to trying new methods in the future as well.

How to make Paneer Goat Cheese

Prepartion time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Makes: 300 grams cheese

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups whole milk (cow’s or goat milk)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • A pinch of salt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place a colander in a large bowl and line it with a thin cloth, such as muslin or cheesecloth.
  2. In a large heavy bottomed pan, bring the milk to a boil, mixing every now and then with a wooden spatula, so that it may not burn.
  3. Mix the lemon juice (and salt) in the hot water and when the milk is warm enough (around 190o F), start adding the lemon juice, a little at a time.
  4. As soon as the lemon juice is added, curds will begin separating from the whey.  Keep mixing, until you see the fat of the milk separated from the milk (around 210o F – 99o C). If you don’t use a thermometer that’s at boiling point.  Mix for about five minutes until the liquid will become watery whey.   This means it is ready and can be removed from heat. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes to cool.
  5. Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth lined colander and allow the curds to drain.  After a large amount of the liquid has drained, wash the curds under cold water to remove any excess curdling agent.   Tie the ends of the cloth together, remove the whey and then press out the liquid.

Paneer Saganaki

The first time I made the cheese I made it with cow’s milk and made half the above quantity, so we tried a little plain, but it was a little bit bland, we tried some with honey (not bad) and when there were only two slices left, I decided to see if I could make saganaki.

I heated some olive oil in a frying pan, cut the cheese about 1 cm slices and fried it.  It holds well without having to flour it.   Greek saganaki is more tasteful but with some lemon juice on top, it wasn’t bad at all.

The next day,  I made some more, this time I used goat milk, without salt, to see the difference.  Depending on the type of milk used, you will get a different flavour.    We love goat milk and most of the Greek cheeses are made with ewe’s and goat milk,  but if you are not used to the taste, you may not like it.   The more fat content in the milk, the tastier the paneer will be.  I noticed that adding more lemon juice it produces more whey.  I liked the slight sourness in the cheese as it reminds me of xinomyzithra but if you don’t like it you can wash the curds to remove the acid.   My conclusion is that I definitely prefer it with goat milk.

I drained the curds for only 15 minutes so that the cheese would remain soft and granular and made a recipe of my own.  The concept was based on a traditional Greek cheese recipe we make in Greece called plastos or alevropita, and a similar tyropita with pumpkin, called badjina , the second part was to add the paneer in the middle and the third to add a crumble on the top.   This fusion tyropita was amazing and it disappeared in no time.

Savory Paneer and Feta  Crumble, recipe by Ivy

Ingredients:

For the batter:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (200 grams)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 200 ml Greek yoghurt

Additional to batter:

  • 290 grams (10.25 oz) feta divided (reserve 3 tablespoons feta crumbles)
  • 245 grams (8.65 oz) anthotyro (could be substituted with ricotta, queso fresco, or your local whey cheese)
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the filling:

  • 200 grams (7 oz) paneer
  • 2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To grease baking dish:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the crumble:

  • 100 grams (3.5 oz) butter
  • 265 grams (9.35 oz) all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • Feta crumbles (about 3 tablespoons)

Directions:

Preparing the crumble:  Cut the butter into small cubes and place all the ingredients in a large bowl.   Use your hands to rub it.    Continue until mixture is lumpy.

Refrigerate until you are ready to use it and then mix in the feta crumbles.

Preparing the cheesy first layer:

Grease a 33 x 23 cm (13 x 9 inches – 3-quart) pyrex with olive oil and set aside.

Put the flour, olive oil, salt, egg and Greek yoghurt in a bowl and mix with a spoon to make a very thick batter.

Place feta with the egg in the food processor and mix until it is creamy.  Then add anthotyro, salt and pepper and mix again.  Mix this cheese cream with the batter and spread it on the greased baking dish.

Using the same food processor (do not bother to clean it) put the paneer and mix until creamy.  Empty it in the bowl we used to make the batter, season with salt and pepper and mix in dill and parsley.

Spoon the paneer mixture on top of the cheesy batter.  Finally add the feta crumbles to the crumble and cover the paneer.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180ο C for about forty five minutes or until it browns.

Serve hot or cold, as you prefer.

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!!

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Χωρίς σχόλια on Project Food Blog: Challenge #2 – How to make Paneer

  1. Ο/Η Rosa λέει:

    Congrats! That is a speciality I have to try. That cruble looks to die for and is so original.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Ο/Η Nate λέει:

    Great job and beautiful end product! Congrats on making it to the next challenge. I'll vote for you when the voting starts.
    My recent post Stir fried Pork with Long Beans

  3. Ο/Η pierre λέει:

    hello Ivy
    have a good time in Cyprus !and thanks for the recipe !Pierre

  4. Ο/Η Nimi λέει:

    This is a wonderful post.A masterpiece!
    luv your work
    Nimi http://www.nimisculinaryventures.blogspot.com

  5. Ο/Η Soma λέει:

    You have really done it! Ivy you have done so many unusual and beautiful things with the paneer, things I could never imagine. Thank you so much for the mention.
    My recent post Cabbage and Chickpea Roulade

  6. Ο/Η 5starfoodie λέει:

    Ivy, congrats on making it to round 2! Your homemade paneer is wonderful and I can just imagine how good both the saganaki and the crumble are with it!

    I am about to start cooking my dish – I'm going with Greek of course and making both cheese and shrimp saganaki :) Will post tomorrow!

  7. Ο/Η natalia λέει:

    Fantastic ! Can't wai for tomorrow to vote !
    My recent post Happy Birthday Ma!

  8. Ο/Η alison λέει:

    dear ivy,congrats for round 1!i hope you have a great time in cyprus and inspiration for the 3rd round,because the second will be a succes,i'm sure!this post about paneer is very good,you had a very smart idea and i wish to have o piece of your paneer &feta crumble,i like it!
    My recent post PRAJITURA RASTURNATA CU SMOCHINE SI MASCARPONE UPSIDE DOWN MASCARPONE CHEESECAKE WITH FIGS

  9. Ο/Η Amy λέει:

    Oh wow, how COOL!! I'm so jealous of your awesome cheese-making skills! You'll definitely have my vote!! :)

  10. Ο/Η tasteofbeirut λέει:

    Congratulations for your victory to the second round and hopefully on to the first place! I was very interested in your post, specifically because I have been wanting to make paneer for years and never got around to it; sounds a lot like our shankleesh except we use yogurt, so it is more pungent; I agree the goat cheese is more interesting; loved the crumble you made with it ; what a perfect appetizer to have with a glass of wine!

  11. Ο/Η elly λέει:

    The paneer goat cheese looks great. I'm always so impressed when people make their own cheese. Congrats on making it past round 1, and I hope you make it past round 2, too!

  12. Ο/Η Banana Wonder λέει:

    Your cheese looks amazing! I love th crumble you made as well. Ivy, you are so creative!
    My recent post The Best Brownie Ive Ever Had- Papa Haydn- Portland

  13. Ο/Η Ivy
    Twitter:
    λέει:

    Thank you so much for your lovely comments. Voting will be open again on the 27th and hope you will vote for me again.

    ivy
    My recent post Project Food Blog- Challenge 2 – How to make Paneer

  14. Ο/Η Heni λέει:

    O wow I love paneer … make it often … used it many ways but mostly in tarts and pies ..; but I just love your ideas here Ivy! As usual you impress and inspire … Good luck on the challenge – I know I am voting for you!
    Heni recently posted..North African inspired BBQ chicken wingsMy Profile

  15. Ο/Η Joan Nova λέει:

    I'm impressed. Good luck, Ivy.

  16. Ο/Η croquecamille λέει:

    How cool that you made your own paneer! It can be hard to find, even in the Indian supermarkets here in Paris, so thank you for the recipe. Now I can have it whenever I want! I'm voting for you.

  17. Ο/Η Maria λέει:

    Good luck Ivy! Congrats on making it to round two and I hope your next post describes your advance to round three!

  18. Ο/Η Janna λέει:

    That looks really really good. Cheese making is definitely a big undertaking. And paneer is my favorite! You have my vote!

  19. Ο/Η Simona λέει:

    Good job on the challenge, Ivy. I am not surprised, of course :)
    My recent post Project Food Blog- Weekend Herb Blogging and Daring Bakers

  20. Ο/Η FOODESSA λέει:

    Hello Ivy…just wanted to make sure to come and see how you've been doing on the competion ;o)

    Great informative post. You've got my vote!

    Good luck and flavourful wishes,
    Claudia

  21. Ο/Η Maybelles mom λέει:

    Indian Greek fusion–awesome. You get my vote.
    Maybelles mom recently posted..Daring Bakers Sugar CookiesMy Profile

  22. Ο/Η Peggy λέει:

    Love the step by step photos of this post! Great job and good luck!

  23. Ο/Η Reeni λέει:

    Your cheese looks delicious Ivy! You make the very best Saganaki! Good luck in this round!

  24. Ο/Η Vita λέει:

    Μόλις σε ψήφισα. Καλή συνέχεια και καλή επιτυχία

  25. Ο/Η @lickmyspoon λέει:

    That crumble looks amazing. Then again, it's made with cheese, butter, herbs and a bit of flour, deliciousness is guaranteed. I love how informative this post is, you went beyond just one recipe. You've got my vote! Good luck this week!

    Lick My Spoon

  26. Ο/Η Ute λέει:

    How interesting! I always wondered how paneer is made, thanks for this insight and congratulations to your great blog.

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