Belly Flop in the Kitchen: Paneer

You know how there’s always that one thing you want to try in the kitchen, but you never get around to? Well, today I attempted something I’ve wanted to make for a long time – homemade Indian Paneer! Paneer is a very simple farm cheese made from milk and some sort of acid component – you can use lemon juice, vinegar or yogurt. The steps were simple – heat 2% milk until boiling, add yogurt, and stir until curds separate from whey. Then drain the mixture in cheese cloth. This part was easy enough, and I felt like Mario Batali with boobs as my homemade cheese drained in the kitchen sink.

The cheese drained and then I got ready to cut it into cubes – so far so good.

Freshly made paneer

Like any good chef (or hungry person), I sampled the fruits of my labor and was pleasantly surprised with the simple, milky taste of the cheese – and the fabulous squeak squeak as I chewed. I cut it into cubes to use in my recipe for dinner.

Paneer was a success! ... So far.

I decided to follow the Paupered Chef’s Matar Paneer recipe, and I diligently ground up ginger, onion and garlic in my trusty food processor. Do you have a food processor? If you don’t, you should get one, because my food processor is hands down one of my top three favorite kitchen accessories/appliances; along with my lime squeezer and OXO vegetable peeler. I browned the paneer and set it aside, continuing to mix all of the other ingredients. The recipe was coming together nicely, filling my house with aromas of India.

After everything was cooked and mixed, the recipe said to add the paneer to the mixture and let simmer gently for 20 minutes. I placed the paneer in and noticed it was starting to crumble a little bit, but I didn’t think too much of it. Unfortunately before I even knew what was happening, the paneer fell apart and disentegrated into tiny little crumbly curds. Sad, sad, sad. The curry still tasted fine, but it definitely wasn’t good. I was so bummed! There’s nothing worse than putting a lot of time and energy into a new dish and then having it be a total belly flop at the end. I ended up tossing the whole dish, because I just couldn’t get over the grainy texture and mismatched flavor. Lame.

The finished product - Matar Paneer

However, I did have one kitchen success today – homemade salsa with veggies from my garden. Lime juice, green pepper, cilantro, onion, jalapeno, tomato, garlic, salt – that’s all you need for an amazing homemade salsa.

Garden Grown Salsa Saves the Day

So yeah – unfortunately my first paneer recipe was a flop. I’m going to try it again though, and this time, let the curds and whey soak longer, and avoid cooking the finished product as long in a recipe. I hate it when a new recipe turns out sucky, but I have to remember that that’s part of learning the cooking and kitchen process. Stuff gets screwed up all the time – and even master chefs have belly flops every once in awhile. (Usually all my belly flop recipes come from Pinterest!) What was the last kitchen belly flop you had?


5 thoughts on “Belly Flop in the Kitchen: Paneer

  1. The first time I made cholent (a Jewish-Moroccan stew) I made it with chicken that had bones in it (rib meat still attached)…and I cooked it in the crockpot for the alloted 15 hours on low (it’s a Shabbat thing.)

    Well…as Matt can tell you, the rib meat AND bones (itty bitty bones) disintegrated into the stew. It was almost impossible to get a bite without bone fragments. The second time I made it, I used boneless/skinless chicken. MUCH BETTER.

  2. Indian food can be fickle with all the different dairy elements. I think it took me two or three tries before I got the Tikka Masala right, which is actually a Scottish dish, but that’s a different story…

  3. I’m still so impressed with the fact that you made paneer at all. Go girl! I’m sure that with a bit of practice, you’ll get a recipe down. Happy cooking!

  4. You were like, 90% there! It’s always sucky when a dish doesn’t turn out but what’s nice is when you can overcome it and perfect it. Happy trials! :)

  5. Pingback: Weekend Wrap Up! | Double Chin Diary

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