One of my daughters is mainly vegetarian but will eat cheeses. I'm planning to make a curried paneer something or other tonight (I will present her several recipes I can make with ingredients on-hand and let her pick).
So I made some paneer earlier today and it's currently pressing in the fridge. I hadn't really thought about it before, but all of the recipes I've used in the past say to rinse the curds once you have them in the cloth ready to squeeze and drain, so I've always done that.
Today I was looking at paneer recipes in Iyer's "660 Curries" cookbook (no I'm not quite so lucky as to own it just yet, but lucky enough for today because several pages of the paneer recipes are available as teasers on a for-sale webpage). Mr. Iyer has 2 recipes for making paneer, one whole milk and the other using half-and-half, which he says gives a smoother or creamier mouthfeel. Neither recipe instructs rinsing. So I reviewed a whole bunch of recipes online and found almost as many that do not mention rinsing as those that instruct to rinse.
Do you rinse to get the lemon or vinegar off? I did not this time and tasted some of the curd as I was getting ready to press it, and don't think I could really taste the vinegar. I suspect most stays with the whey so it probably doesn't really matter.
Now that I've got it pressing, I stumbled on some recipes for paneer curries that include the paneer making process, which say to stir up the curd once it's partly drained to break it into a finer grain, but don't explain why. Do you think this step will result in paneer that holds together better when used as a cooking ingredient? Mine tends to break up at least somewhat when frying it or once in the sauce, with stirring, especially cubes that I've cut from the edges of the cake and don't get so much pressing. But sometimes even cubes cut from dead center will break into 2 or 3 pieces when cooking with them. Maybe big curds give automatic fault lines?
For the record, I partially took Mr. Iyer's advice by using 6 cups whole milk and 2 cups half-and-half (all I had on hand), 1/4 cup vinegar, and netted right at 13 ounces of cheese. Although it's still pressing in the fridge, I don't think it will lose much more moisture so the 13 ounces should be pretty close. Mr. Iyer suggests a HALF gallon (the amount of dairy I used) of half-and-half should net 16 ounces, and one FULL gallon of whole milk should net 20 ounces of cheese, so my mix and match results seem to be in line with his.
Do you have any favorite uses for the whey? I've been googling and found things like using as pasta-cooking water, adding a portion to sauces, using it for the water called for in a bread recipe, even just drinking it iced. I just drank about 12 ounces of it iced and it was okay, but I can tell it won't become any kind of go-to drink for me, so I want to find something productive to do with the other ~ 40 ounces.
Thanks for any thoughts, and sorry for the longish narrative style of this post. I've had coffee.
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