North Indian Recipe: Paneer Balls in Palak Sauce

Paneer (Hindi: पनीर panīr, from Persian پنير panir) is a fresh cheese common in South Asian cuisine. It is of Indian origin. In eastern parts of India it is generally called Chhena It is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese or curd cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice or other food acid.

Unlike most cheeses in the world, the making of paneer does not involve rennet as the coagulation agent, thus making it completely lacto-vegetarian

Preparation

To prepare paneer, food acid (usually lemon juice, vinegar, citric acid or yogurt) is added to hot milk to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are drained in muslin or cheesecloth and the excess water is pressed out. The resulting paneer is dipped in chilled water for 2–3 hours to give it a good texture and appearance.

From this point, the preparation of paneer diverges based on its use and regional variation.

In most cuisines, the curds are wrapped in cloth and placed under a heavy weight, such as a stone slab, for 2–3 hours, and then cut into cubes for use in curries. Pressing for a shorter time (approximately 20 minutes), results in a softer, fluffier cheese.

In Eastern Indian and Bangladeshi cuisines, the curds are beaten or kneaded by hand into a dough-like consistency called ছানা sana in Assamese, ছানাchhana in Bengali, or ଛେନା chhena in Oriya & Bihari. In these regions, sana/chhana/chhena is distinguished from ponir, a salty semi-hard cheese with a sharper flavor and high salt content. Hard ponir is typically eaten in slices at teatime with biscuits or various types of bread, or deep-fried in a light batter.

In the area surrounding the Gujarati city of Surat, surti paneer is made by draining the curds and ripening them in whey for 12 to 36 hours.

Check the video, How to Make Paneer

Ingredients
Soya chunks – 8 (Soak in salted warm water, squeeze, boil in water, squeeze and grind).
Paneer – 1 cup. Coriander leaves – 2 tbspn chopped. Green Chillies – 2 chopped.
Onion – 1/2 chopped. Ginger – 1/2 chopped. Pepper – ¼ tsp

Method
Saute the chopped ingredients in oil. Add pepper, pepper, soya and paneer. Mix well. Add one egg yolk and make small balls. Dip in egg white. Roll in bread crumbs and deep fry.

For the Gravy
Palak – 1 bunch. Garlic – 3. Shallots – 5. Green Chillies – 2. Butter – 1 tbsp. Cream – 2 tbsp

Method
Saute garlic, green chillies and shallots in butter. Add chopped palak and cook until done. Grind to a smooth paste. Add salt ½ cup water. Cook until thick. Add cream and the fried balls just before serving.

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