DIY Paneer Cheese

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.

METHOD

Batch 1Batch 2
After turning off the heat, the milk was stirred for a couple of minutes to cool down before adding vinegarVinegar 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 minutesCurdling process took 5 minutes
Differences in methodology between Batch 1 and Batch 2

RESULTS

Batch 1Batch 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.
Differences observed in final product

CONCLUSION

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.

Easy Breakfast Quiche

Basic breakfast staples — eggs and toast. How many ways can you make breakfast with these two ingredients? I like to keep my weekend brunches interesting yet simple. So I decided to use bread as a shortcut for my mini quiche crust. You can call it mini egg tarts or shortcut quiche or even omelette muffins.

Basic Ingredients: 

  • Bread
  • Eggs
  • Salt and pepper

Additional Ingredients:

  • Milk
  • Onions
  • Chives /Parsley/Coriander/Basil
  • Dried Herbs
  • Bacon
  • Tomato
  • Avocado
  • Capsicum
  • Cheese

Tips:

  • Add milk if you like a slightly smoother texture. If you prefer a crispier version, ignore the milk. 
  • Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes. The egg will rise and puff up when it is done, but will flatten once it cools.
  • You can use the leftover bread and arrange them in a tray. Pour more egg mixture over it and sprinkle with tomatoes and cheese. A bigger version has been created.

My housemate Pam used to make these little egg muffins without the bread crust. She bakes the omelette mixture in a silicone muffin tray and once it is done, you can just tip the whole egg muffin out. She calls it her whatever-you-like egg muffin, loaded with bacon, onions, cheese and just whatever else she has at home. 


Turmeric Latte and all its benefits

My mother is always championing the benefits of turmeric, from relieving joint pains to aiding digestion. She sometimes adds a few pieces of turmeric to her stir fried vegetables and she also blends it with pumpkin for her spiced pumpkin soup. It gives her cooking an extra bit of a kick.

I first came across turmeric latte in a vegan cafe in Beijing. One of those organic, low fat, meat free cafes that promotes a healthy lifestyle for stressed out city folks. I never knew you can have turmeric in your drink because we usually use it for cooking curry in Malaysia. So, feeling adventurous, I went for a cup.

I could feel my body warming up as I sipped my turmeric latte, heat radiating from the centre to my extremities. It gets your blood circulating and that feels good even on a non-winter day. Hmm, not too bad.

I’ve been thinking about that drink recently and decided to do some research on it. Just like the Indian chai tea that has turned hip after reinventing itself as chai latte, the turmeric latte also had its roots as turmeric milk in India. The basic ingredients for the turmeric paste are turmeric, black pepper (aids the absorption of circumin, the active ingredient in turmeric) and cinnamon. Cook into paste with organic cold-pressed coconut oil (or olive oil if you don’t have coconut oil). You can also add on cardamom, cloves or fennel seed powder for an upgraded version.

Watch how to make your own fresh turmeric latte

Ingredients:

  • 500g turmeric root
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2-3 tbsp organic cold-pressed coconut oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • optional spices: cardamom powder, fennel seed powder, clove powder
Fresh turmeric roots in a basket

Benefits of herbs and spices in this golden concoction:

Turmeric: aids digestion, relieves pain from inflammation, and fights against influenza

Black pepper: improves the absorption of Curcumin (active ingredient in turmeric) into our bodies

Cinnamon: encourages blood circulation and fights bacteria

Organic cold pressed coconut oil: raises the good cholesterol levels in your body and contains fats that boost brain function and reduce heart disease

And you know what is the best thing about this paste? You can use it to cook curries, add it to your stir fried vegetables or even put a dollop into your pumpkin soup! It’s so versatile once you have it all prepared.