Panak Paneer con Queso

Problem 1: Every time I make Chorizo Tacos or pretty much any other Mexican dish, I buy a round of Queso Fresco. But since I don’t cook Mexican often enough, the Queso usually goes bad before I finish it.

Problem 2:
Since getting a copy of 660 Curries as a wedding gift, I have wanted to make Panak Paneer, the Indian restaurant staple of fried cheese with a spinach sauce. But I don’t really want to take the time to make the cheese, at least not the first time I try to prepare the dish.

Panak Paneer con Queso

Rather than type up the recipe here, I will direct to the reader to the 660 Curries cookbook. I highly recommend purchasing this book, and in the age of the online recipe, I probably wouldn’t say that about many cookbooks. Since I got my copy, I have made at least a dozen different curries. Not a single recipe calls for “Curry Powder”. He rarely even calls for a pre-ground spice. In each recipe, Raghavan Iyer walks you through the complex blend of whole spices needed to bring a full flavor to Indian cooking.

When I finally found the time to actually prepare the dish, I realized I was missing a few of the ingredients, including yogurt and tomato. I made do without, and found that the dish was still pretty tasty, although definitely not restaurant quality yet. I fried the cheese in a frying pan, just as Raghavan recommends for real Indian cheese, and the process reminded me a lot of frying tofu.

I did feel that the Mexican cheese was a bit too salty, and I could probably compensate for this by reducing the salt in the recipe. In the spirit of the Longcut, I will probably try my hand at making cheese from scratch. Today the local food emag The Heavy Table posted a link to Images Petites, where there is a nice photojouranal of the cheesemaking process. In the interim, it’s good to know I can enjoy this dish with little more than a bag of spinach and a brick of Queso Fresco.

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