How To Make Paneer

MAKES ABOUT 1½ LBS.

Here's how to make the fresh Indian cheese (which can also be purchased at many Indian grocers) called for in the Curry With Peas And Fresh Cheese recipe.

1. Put 18 cups milk and 2½ tbsp. salt into a large pot; bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally.

2. Add ½ cup fresh lemon juice; turn off heat. Large curds will form. Using a wooden spoon, gently push curds together toward one side of the pot; do not stir, or the curd will break into small pieces.

3. Strain mixture through a colander lined with 4 large layers of dampened cheesecloth. Let curds drain briefly, undisturbed.

4. Gather ends of cheesecloth together to form a purse. Tie ends around a wooden spoon. Place spoon over a large pot, balancing ends so that purse hangs freely. Let drain at room temperature for 1 hour. Discard any liquid that collects in pot.

5. Unfold cheesecloth and rewrap curds into a rectangle; wrap package in a kitchen towel. Place package on a cutting board and top with a baking sheet; weight down with several heavy pots and pans. Press cheese for 1½ hours, rewrapping and tightening the cheesecloth every 30 minutes (which helps form a compact shape).

6. Unwrap paneer and cut as desired; refrigerate for up to 3 days.