Known almost universally by its Indian name, paneer, this cheese is so easy and fast to make at home that Madhur Jaffrey is surprised more people do not do it. Think of it as Indian-style farmer cheese.
Satisfying Vegetarian Recipes
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 quarts whole milk
3 to 4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
How to Make It
In a small, dry skillet, toast the peppercorns with the cumin over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let cool, then coarsely grind.
Set a large colander in the sink and line it with 3 layers of moistened cheesecloth, leaving 2 inches of overhang all around. In a large saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, immediately add 3 tablespoons of the vinegar and stir gently; the milk should separate into fluffy curds and watery whey. If not, add another tablespoon of vinegar. Pour the curds into the lined colander and let drain for 10 minutes.
Gently stir the ground spices into the curds. Gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and twist the cheese into a tight ball, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Tie the cheesecloth with string, then transfer it to a work surface with the twisted end of the cloth off to the side. Set a cutting board on the cheese and weigh it down with heavy skillets or large cans. Let the cheese stand until firm and dry, about 5 minutes. Remove the cheesecloth before refrigerating or cutting the cheese.
The cheese can be wrapped in a damp towel and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
Toasting whole spices releases their fragrance and intensifies their flavor. Even if you're using pre-ground spices, toasting them for 20 to 30 seconds in a pan on the stove while stirring constantly will make a difference.