Monday, October 12, 2009
Like most recipes I've wanted to make, I've kept it in the back of my mind for years without really attempting to go beyond that. Homemade paneer was one of those things that I bookmarked the recipe for, but just didn't get around to. It'll be too hard, it'll be too messy, I'd rather eat canned soup, that sort of thing. However, I had a bunch of cilantro looking ill in my refrigerator that needed to be dealt with. After I found this recipe, I knew paneer was in my future.
Well, as with most "simple things", I manage to make them harder for myself. This was no exception. I followed this great blog post for instructions. What I thought would take maybe an hour to do plus 2-3 hours to refrigerate turned into a grueling 3 hour process of stirring, swearing, and shouting "Be CHEESE!" at my not-cheese.
Starting off, I did everything like I was supposed to. I was gentle and loving with my ingredients, babying them with quiet words of encouragement to just be themselves and do what comes naturally. Half an hour later, I had tiny curds starting to form. What relief! What success!
What a crock! A spoonful of minuscule curds does not cheese make. But that's okay, it's okay, shhh. Things like this happen all the time in my kitchen. It'll be cheese. Really. I'll just add a little bit more lime juice, raise the heat a notch, and all will be well. After saying this like a mantra for nearly an hour and a half, the yelling kicked in.
Make cheese, damn it! BE CHEESE!
To say I was miffed was a bit of an understatement. When I yell, things happen. But not today. My Not-Cheese was as stubborn as me and defiantly refusing to do what it was supposed to. I would make this work because that's what I do. I make things work whether they want to or not. I scoured the internet for troubleshooting tips, but seriously, wherever the cheesemakers are hiding they are ridiculously successful or have no internet connection because there ain't nothing. Just a few random bits here and there of things I was doing anyways. Add more rennet/lime juice/lemon juice/acid/ect, boil the crap out of it, keep going until it kills you. Done. Way ahead of you.
I've found you can't be gentle with this stuff. You have to bully the cheese out of it. I figured at some point I would either have lime-flavored cheese or lime-flavored milk powder. Either way, it would be something other than what it was at the time: a big pot of recalcitrant milk and enough citrus to curdle anything other than that particular milk. (Why can't you just BE CHEESE?)
And after a while, I didn't care about cheese anymore. I'd found a recipe using the whey that I was so excited about. But how can you have whey with no cheese? So back to the stove. But lo! There was a curd. A bigun. One single mondo curd in a sea of tiny asshole curds. Was it teasing me? Was it a sign of things to come? Could my tiny heart handle it if it was the former?
So I pressed on. Slowly, so damn slowly, more curds formed. More and more until finally I saw some CHEESE! and WHEY! Through sweat and tears, I carefully strained it and let it sit. After much strife I had paneer. Delicate, glistening white paneer. What did I do with it? Uh...
I threw it in a salad. I might have slathered some of biscuits. Oh, you mean did I make the recipe with it? Of course not. Why would I do that? I used about half of it before it grew mold and got thrown away. Obviously.
But I used some of the WHEY! I'll blog about that recipe soon. I did it for the experience. But since the experience kinda sucked, I might hold off on doing it again for another 4 years. Do not judge me. I am fully aware that I'm retarded.