After I had tried out making cottage cheese with herbs, I wanted to make a sweet version of the same. Just then, I came across a recipe for orange-infused paneer with dried fruits and nuts by the super-talented Chef Bejaya Sinha on the Chef At Large Facebook group, and absolutely had to try it out. I did just that, recently, with a few changes of my own, and was stupefied by the end result.
I used fresh juice from oranges (available in abundance now) to make the paneer (instead of the vinegar I use regularly), and added chopped dried fruit and nuts in, too. I doused the milk solids with some powdered sugar as well. The cottage cheese turned out gloriously sweet and soft, smelling beautifully of oranges.
This paneer tasted great as is, but tasted even better toasted, lightly dusted with more sugar. I am guessing it would taste great in salads as well as in sweet dishes too, but I didn’t try any of these things out. If you guys have ideas on how one can use this sweet paneer, I’d highly appreciate it.
Now, let’s move on to the recipe, shall we?
*Recipe adapted from the original by Chef Bejaya Sinha on Chef At Large*
Ingredients (yields about 150 grams of paneer):
- 1 litre full-fat milk (I used Nandini full cream milk)
- Juice from 1 medium-sized orange
- Juice from 1 medium-sized lemon (if required)
- About 10 roasted, unsalted pistachios (chopped up)
- 4-5 dried figs, chopped up (Use fresh ones that are not too hard; I got fresh dried figs from Ajfan and they were super soft)
- 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Set the milk to boil, on high flame, in a heavy-bottomed vessel.
- When the milk has heated up for a couple of minutes, add in the chopped figs and pistachios. Continue to heat the milk.
- When the milk reaches the almost-boiling stage i.e. when it starts forming a layer on top and bubbles start forming at the sides, switch off the gas.
- Add the orange juice, bit by bit.
- If the milk hasn’t started curdling by now, add in the lemon juice, a little bit at a time. Mix well.
- Let the milk sit, undisturbed, for 2-3 minutes. By this time, the milk should have fully curdled and a watery whey should have separated from the solids.
- Meanwhile, line a colander with a fine cotton cloth.
- After 2-3 minutes, pour the entire contents of the vessel into the cloth-lined colander, placing another vessel below it to catch the whey. The whey will gush into the vessel into the bottom, while the milk solids will stay in the cotton cloth.
- When most of the whey has drained out, mix in the powdered sugar into the milk solids resting in the cotton cloth. Let them sit this way for a couple more minutes, and then place the cloth (with the solids in it) into a round or square box to give the cottage cheese shape. The whey will continue to drain out during this process, but in very little quantity.
- Let the cottage cheese rest in the box for about 5 minutes, by which time it will cool down.
- Then, you can transfer the cottage cheese to a clean, dry, air-tight box. Keep the paneer refrigerated till you use it.
- I used the dried fruits and nuts that I had on hand, to make this paneer. You could use any dried fruit/s or nut/s of your choice.
- Adding the orange juice and lemon juice a little bit at a time (as opposed to all of it at one shot) will help you make paneer that is soft.
- You could use honey to sweeten the paneer too, if you do not want to use sugar.
- Remember to add the powdered sugar at the very last stage, when most of the whey has drained out of the milk solids. Otherwise, the sugar will not get incorporated in the paneer very well.
- Refrigerated, this paneer stays well for about 5 days. It is best to consume the paneer within that time frame, since we are not using any preservatives.
You like? I hope you’ll try this out too!