Paneer, a soft and fresh cheese, is a popular ingredient used in North Indian cooking. Go to a restaurant and vegetarian options are mostly restricted to paneer, mushroom and baby corn. Of the three, paneer is my personal favourite and it is surprisingly easy to make.
To make paneer, bring a litre of full fat milk to boil in a heavy bottomed pan. Reduce heat to minimum and stir in four tablespoons of lemon/lime juice and continue stirring till the milk splits and the curds are separated from the whey. You may need to add more lemon/lime juice to make the milk split. Remove the pan from heat. Line a sieve with cheese cloth or muslin and pour in the whey along with the curdled cheese. Rinse the paneer in cold water. Tie up the cheese cloth and make a bundle of the paneer in it. Place a heavy weight on the paneer and leave for 15 minutes to an hour. This should yield about 150 grams of paneer. Cut the paneer into cubes and use immediately or store in fridge for upto 3-4 days.
Paneer can be used in curries, parattas and even in cheesecakes. Today, I have paneer bruschetta for you. It involves minimal cooking, but tastes fresh and looks colorful enough to make a sensational appetizer at your dinner parties.
For the bruschetta, mix together 300 grams of crumbled paneer, 5 medium deseeded and chopped tomatoes, 2 small chopped onions, a small fistful of chopped coriander leaves, 2 teaspoons of chaat masala, salt and pepper. Slice a French loaf into 1 1/2 cm diagonal slices and toast the slices. Melt 75 grams of butter with 5 cloves of grated garlic and brush generously over the bread. Top each slice with paneer mixture and a few drops of this coriander chutney. Drizzle over remaining butter, if any.
There is no hard and fast rule to this recipe. You can adjust all ingredients as per you taste.