Attention all vegetarians: Don’t panic!
The photo above is from ‘Cooking with Kurma’, my second cookbook. The ‘steak’ is made from fresh panir cheese.
S from Malaysia wrote and suggested I shouldn’t call them ‘steaks’, but rather ‘patties’. I guess the name ‘steak’ conjured negative emotions for him. Sorry S, but ‘patties’ just doesn’t ‘cut the mustard’ with me. You’re not going to convince a meat-eating bloke to ‘have a pattie’.
Why convince a meat-eating bloke at all, you say?
In fact my Spiritual Master, Srila Prabhupada instructed us in Melbourne of 1974 during an impromptu cookery class, that fried panir cheese is ideal for converting the meat-eaters. He suggested that a dish made with fried panir cheese would be ‘a meat eater’s delight’.
Subsequently fried panir chunks and fried potatoes in a spicy whey-based gravy became a classic Australian Hare Krishna Temple Sunday Feast item, and became lovingly known as ‘Meat Eaters Delight’ or MED.
So I will continue to call them ‘Panir Steaks’ with a clear conscience.
And here’s the recipe for the photo above.
Panir Cheese Steaks with Chips and Salad
Curd cheese, or panir, is rich in protein and extremely versatile. It can be deep-fried and used in vegetable dishes, crumbled into salads, made into sweets, stuffed inside breads and pastries, and creamed into dips.
Curd cheese is the simplest kind of unripened cheese and is made by adding an acid or other curdling agent to hot milk. The solid milk protein coagulates to form the soft curd cheese, the liquid whey is separated, and the cheese is drained, pressed, and then used as required. Because curd cheese is not commonly available in shops, and the home-made product is vastly superior, I have included the simple recipe for making your own.
The quality and freshness of the milk will determine the quality of the curd cheese. The higher the fat-content of the milk, the richer the curd cheese. Different curdling agents will produce different types of curd. The most common curdling agents are strained, fresh lemon juice, citric acid crystals dissolved in water, yogurt, cultured buttermilk, or sour whey from a previous batch of curd cheese.
5 litres fresh milk
3-4 cups yogurt or 6-8 tablespoons lemon juice
oil for pan-frying
teaspoon yellow asafetida powder
tamari or soy sauce
sweet chili sauce
crusty bread, salad greens and chips for serving
Heat the milk to boiling point in a heavy-based saucepan.
Stir in three-quarters of the yogurt or lemon juice. The milk should separate into chunky curds, leaving a greenish liquid residue called whey. If not completely separated, add a little more yogurt or lemon juice. Drape a double thickness of cheesecloth over a colander sitting in the sink.
Scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon and place them in the cheesecloth. Pour the whey and whatever curds that remain in the saucepan into the cheesecloth. Gather the ends of the cloth together and hold the bag of curd cheese under cold running water for 30 seconds. Twist the bag tightly to squeeze out extra whey, return it to the colander.
Press under a heavy weight for 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove the curd cheese from the cloth. Your panir is ready. Slice the panir into steaks.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan placed over fairly high heat. Sprinkle in the yellow asafetida powder and saute momentarily.
Carefully transfer the panir cheese into the hot pan and cook on both sides, turning when required with a fork or tongs, until golden brown and crusty.
Splash on the tamari or soy sauce, toss the pan or turn the panir, then pour on the sweet chili sauce and repeat until the sauces combine to a thick glaze.
Quickly remove the panir and serve immediately with hot chips and salad.
I also present panir cheese on a bed of sweet potato mash with tangy dressed rocket leaves like so:
In Govinda’s restaurant in Dublin, the most popular dish on the menu is bowlfuls of fried panir cheese fried to golden brown and simmered in a rich tomato gravy. Two thousand litres of the local creamy fresh farm milk is made into panir cheese every week.
You can also simmer fried chunks of panir cheese with peas and spicy tomato sauce for the classic Indian dish ‘matar panir’
Subliminal advertising session is over. You will now immediately go to the kitchen and make panir. Go on, off you go…
Posted by Kurma on 16/6/08; 5:36:00 AM