Homemade Paneer

Makes about 12 ounces

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Typically made from cow’s milk or water buffalo’s milk, paneer is incredibly easy to make at home in not much more than an hour, using whole milk and buttermilk. The acidity in the buttermilk acts as the curdling agent, separating the curds and whey, which are drained off. The cheese is then squeezed to remove excess moisture and weighted down until firm enough to slice. Saag Paneer (recipe follows) is a classic and favorite use for paneer, but this is a super versatile fresh cheese: Since it doesn’t melt like mozzarella does, you can pan-fry slices, cut it into large cubes and roast it with vegetables, or even skewer it into kebabs and quickly grill them. Whole milk will give you the best results. To ensure that the cheese is firm, wring it tightly in step 2 and use two plates that nestle together snugly.

3 quarts pasteurized (not ultrapasteurized or UHT) whole milk

3 cups buttermilk

1 tablespoon table salt

1 Line colander with triple layer of cheesecloth and place in sink. Bring milk to boil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Whisk in buttermilk and salt, turn off heat, and let stand undisturbed for 1 minute. Pour milk mixture through cheesecloth and let curds drain for 15 minutes.

2 Pull edges of cheesecloth together to form pouch. Twist edges of cheesecloth together, firmly squeezing out as much liquid as possible from cheese curds. Place taut, twisted cheese pouch between 2 large plates and weight down top plate with heavy Dutch oven. Set aside at room temperature until cheese is firm and set, about 45 minutes, then remove cheesecloth. (Paneer can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)