The thing about cheese, is that it’s actually really simple. Milk, a souring agent and time is all it takes to produce a simple white cheese. No complications.
It’s when you start adding things like flavor, smokiness, rinds that things get complicated. Kind of like relationships. Except they don’t have rinds.Well, you know what I mean.
I’m glad to have introduced my friends to the power of paneer and Indian cheese. It’s to the point where we actively seek it out, like DVD copies of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. We had a couple of brushes with this cheese on our recent trip to Mumbai.
This included a unique paneer salad on board our flight, which I spied on the menu on boarding and pre-reserved to stop anyone else getting their hands on it.
We were also treated to some awesome cheese delicacies at Grand Hyatt Mumbai including this Jalapeno cheese ball – all gooey deliciousness from a white cheese with a kick of chilli to keep us honest. We may have ordered 500 of these one night.
Cchena is like paneer, except some whey is left and the mixture is beaten thoroughly until it becomes soft, of smooth consistency, and malleable but firm, which makes it ideal for cooking.
We also sampled some true fusion cuisine at the Hyatt – a paneer taco. When you think of it, paneer is like Mexico’s Queso blanco or white cheese. This was a corn chip topped with a spicy paneer and tomato mixture and more cheese. Two nations in one bite!
For all the complications in Indian food – the spices, the the cooking, the colors and flavors, perhaps paneer and their use of milk and cheese is one of the simplest.