This is a question about cheese.
June 27, 2007 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Where can I buy blocks of paneer in the Bloomington/Indianapolis area or, failing that, online?

I was getting paneer at Sahara Mart in Bloomington, but they haven't had the nice frozen blocks of it in quite some time, they're just had little fried cubes.

Or should I try making it?
posted by thirteenkiller to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Paneer is actually quite easy to make at home.

Just be careful not to overheat the milk, because when you add the acid (lemon juice, vinegar, whatever), it tends to make a big mess.
posted by briank at 6:38 AM on June 27, 2007

Second making it at home. You can either make it to order, or make a big batch and freeze some so you'll have it on hand. It's very easy.
posted by OmieWise at 7:15 AM on June 27, 2007

Yes, try making it! Milk, lemon juice, cheesecloth. It's not as hard as it seems. The trick for me was to keep adding a little more acid when it didn't curdle very much right away. If you have any good ideas for what to do with the leftover whey, though...well, maybe that should be my next AskMe.
posted by clavicle at 7:17 AM on June 27, 2007

I would try Wild Oats in Indy. There is one in Carmel (way north on US 31, cross street is 146th, in the Clay Terrace shopping center) and one in Nora, at about 86th and Westfield Bvld.
There is also a monstrous multi-cultural ethnic grocery store on the west side near 38th and Lafayette Road called "Saraga" ( . It is enormous and carries foodstuffs from a very wide variety of cultures, including a very large selection of produce I had never heard of before. It's fun. I don't remember if they carry paneer or not, but it's worth visiting if only for the aisle full of nothing but ramen noodle packets.

Incidentally, I've made paneer before, and it really wasn't difficult at all.
posted by leapfrog at 7:28 AM on June 27, 2007

Doesn't Bloomingfoods have an Indian section? Also, I can't remember if Saraga (out near College Mall) had anything like blocks of paneer. Other than that, I vote for the "make your own" idea!
posted by salsamander at 10:25 AM on June 27, 2007

International Bazzar, 4225 Lafayette Rd. They have paneer, and a whole bunch more. It's not immediately obvious where it is - walk through the anonymous-looking storefront next to the slightly-fancier-looking indian restaurant. Head to the back, and you'll find it. While you're there, have lunch at the Udupi Cafe. Fabulous south indian vegetarian buffet. Can't go wrong with all-you-can-eat dosa.
posted by buxtonbluecat at 10:55 AM on June 27, 2007

Oops - 4225 Lafayette Rd Indianapolis.

Also, making your own is an option, but I find it's not quite the same; not that it's necessarily better or worse, but if you require more structural integrity in your paneer, then store-bought is arguably the way to go.
posted by buxtonbluecat at 10:57 AM on June 27, 2007

I'm pretty sure Saraga doesn't carry paneer, though I could be wrong.
posted by buxtonbluecat at 11:05 AM on June 27, 2007

On-line paneer.
posted by commander_cool at 11:19 AM on June 27, 2007

Buttermilk is a better curdler than lemon juice, in my experience. One litre of buttermilk will paneerize two gallons of whole milk, and it doesn't affect the taste as much as lemon does. Two gallons of milk will make a good-sized wad of paneer, enough for six servings.

Using a scrupulously clean soup pot or similar pot on medium heat, bring your whole milk to the point where it is just barely boiling. You will want to stand over it and watch it carefully, stirring and preventing scorching, because if you scorch milk in your pot, you will wish the pot never existed.

When it is ready to bubble, reduce the heat and trickle in the buttermilk while continuing to stir. You will see little shreds forming, and the liquid will turn from milky opaque to pale and translucent.

Fish your curds out of the pot with a slotted spoon or a wok strainer lined with cheesecloth. Dump them into a colander lined with cheesecloth. I set my colander in a casserole dish so the whey can drain through. You can pour your whole pot into the colander if you want, but I find that a messy way to do it, and if your drainage is slow, you'll overflow your colander.

As the whey drains, squish the curds down and twist them into a package inside the cheesecloth, and then weight the top with an iron pan or a clean bowl with a heavy bottle in it.

You can get a more solid configuration if you refrigerate it overnight with the weight on top.

Some curds are tiny, and some cheesecloth is loosely woven, so use the cloth in several layers for best effect. A new clean woven cotton teatowel will work, too.

You can save the whey to cook your rice in, or to use as a sauce base when preparing the rest of the meal.

When you make this, the feelings of secret awesomeness and power will surprise you. Your brain will keep saying YOU MADE CHEESE! Dude! YOU MADE CHEESE!
posted by Sallyfur at 11:39 AM on June 27, 2007

I have used queso fresco with great success; this might be easier to find.
posted by Riverine at 7:50 PM on June 28, 2007

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