Palak Paneer or spinach curry with Indian cottage cheese is a default dish that I always order when I go to an Indian restaurant. I like it that the spinach gravy is not spicy and of course, I love it for the cheese. An Indian friend once mentioned that you can make your own cheese with just milk and vinegar, and I have always wanted to try it out since. So while researching paneer recipes online, I came across a very detailed explanation on how to make your own paneer here: https://www.indianhealthyrecipes.com/how-to-make-paneer-cubes-at-home/
I gathered my ingredients and made 2 attempts at this experiment. I followed the method in the recipe using Chinese rice vinegar as my preferred form of acid. Rice vinegar does not have that sharp acidic smell so I did not have to rinse my curds off with water after. Here is what I learnt from my 2 experiments in the video below.
|Batch 1||Batch 2|
|After turning off the heat, the milk was stirred for a couple of minutes to cool down before adding vinegar||Vinegar was added immediately after turning off the heat|
|Stirred the milk over long intervals in between spoons of vinegar||Intervals between each spoon of vinegar was short|
|Curdling process took about 15 minutes||Curdling process took 5 minutes|
|Batch 1||Batch 2|
|Curds were small and of sandy texture. Final block of cheese was crumbly and breaks easily.||Curds were in big lumps and smoother. Final block of cheese was firm and solid.|
The milk reacts quickly with vinegar while it is still hot. Vinegar needs to be added while the milk is hot because chemical reaction is retarded when milk cools down. The longer the curdling process is dragged out, the more dehydrated the curds become as it sits in the acidic liquid longer. Therefore, we can see the curds from Batch 1 is dry and crumbly compared to Batch 2.
My tips and recommendations from this experiment is:
- use a pot with a narrow opening to prevent it from cooling too fast
- use double layer of the disposable kitchen cloths. Disposable cloth is better because you don’t need to wash it after. The smell from the cheese is pretty strong and hard to wash off.
- gather all curds into a ball and make sure they are not wrapped into the folds. This will give you a nicely shaped cheese.