Know your Onions

Making Paneer at home

FullSizeRender (8)
A thousand moons ago or more I wrote a post about making Paneer /Cottage cheese at home.



The basic method remains the same, but I now own a nice little digital food thermometer. And that makes all the difference! These are now available everywhere in Pune and I am so thrilled with mine. It comes with a holder, like a pen, which keep it clean and safe from damage. Its read out is in both Fahrenheit and Centigrade .

I also use a nice fabric "Multipurpose bag" made by Sandhya Chirputkar (sandhya.chirputkar (at) to drain and wash the curds. Paneer bag


2 litres milk .You can use full cream milk or pasteurized and homogenised double toned milk .If using raw milk, bring it to the boil and then cool down to 120 F.

100 ml white vinegar or the juice of two lemons


1.Heat the milk to 120 degrees F. Check the exact temperature with the thermometer. 

2.Slowly pour in the vinegar while stirring the milk gently. Keep stirring for 2 minutes while the milk separates and forms the curds.

3.Cover and let stand for half an hour.

4. Pour the curds into the fabric bag and drain the whey  or pour through a muslin lined strainer. Reserve the whey for use in chapathi and pastry dough.

5. Squeeze the extra whey out of the curds. Gather the edges of the muslin together or bag and wash the curds in running water. This gets rid of the extra vinegar or lime juice .Squeeze again and let the curds drain for half an hour in the strainer or in a  5 inch paneer maker.The more water drained out leads to a firmer curd which can then be cut into cubes. 

6. Two litres of milk will produce about 350 gms of paneer. 

7. The  only difference in using full cream milk is that the texture of the paneer is creamier. 

8. If you use the paneer raw in salads or on bread you can add a tablespoon of cream to the curds at the end. Add a pinch of salt for taste.




Ingredients in Konkani Cooking

As I reach the completion of  my book on Konkani Cooking I have had fun finding out more about all the more  unusual ingredients used in this cuisine. Right now I have mentioned most of the scientific names and some common names of these ingredients ( also in 10 languages in the glossary of the book) but I'd be grateful for any other insights readers may have about the following:

Spices primarily used :

  1. Black pepper
  2. Fenugreek
  3. Red chillies   For example a.Byadgi b. Birds eye, c. Kashmiri chillies 
  4. Asafetida 
  5. Turmeric
  6. Mustard seed
  7. Cumin

Secondary Spices used:

1.Teppal, Tirphal, trephal, Sichuan pepper

2. Coriander

3. Khus Khus



6.Bay leaf/ Tej patta (different from Cassia leaf/bay leaf in the west)

7. Cardamon Black and green




Green coriander

Green Mango

Curry leaf

Mango Ginger/ aamhaldi



C. Souring agents used in Konkani food for example

1.Bilimbi fruit of the Avarrhoa Bilimbi tree , also known as cucumber tree or tree sorrel. bilimbi,Irumban Puli,Chemmeen Puli,Bimbul, Orkkaapuli.A very acid fruit sometimes eaten raw as a relish. Mostly dried in salt and used as a souring agent in Konkani food.

2.Carambola/ Karmbal   also known as starfruit is the fruit of the Carmabola Avarhhoa tree,

3 Tamarind


5.Mango pith


D.Vegetables, fruit and flowers  used in Konkani Cuisine

Coconut- Coconut tree. Called Kalpavriksh in Konkani cooking 

Gourds- ash gourd*, snake gourd, bitter gourd, teasel gourd, Ridge gourd, Bottle gourd, *

Malabar Cucumber , Magge

Chayote, Chow chow

Yam, kook, Chinese potato, Wild potato

Sweet potato

Banana, flower, pith and fruit

Drumstick , flower and leaves and fruit

Colocasia, leaves and corms

Breadfruit, /Neer phanas

Hog Plums/ Ambada

Wood apple ( note this is not Bel Phal)

Tender cashewnuts,

Jackfruit, fruit and seeds

Pumpkin, flowers and fruit

Gooseberries /Amla

Karmbal /Star fruit

Gulla or Matti Gulla ( green aubergine)

Greens- Brahmi leaves/Ekpani/Gotu Kola




             Malabar Spinach

Tender Bamboo shoots


E.Lentils /peas

Cow peas

Horse Gram/ Kulith/

Besides, Green gram, Black gram, Pigeon Peas and Red lentils 


Common fish used in Konkani cooking- For example

Lady fish

Shark Ambotik

Rock fish

Do write in with any other local names of ingredients in order to help identify it for other users and also any personal or unusual way in which you clean, cut or cook any of the uncommon ones.


How to keep herbs fresh


Pune has become a place of plenty. Earlier on about the only fresh herb one could get was green dhania ( coriander) in generous bunches.Now you get fresh Thyme, Parsley, Flat leaf parsley, Basil, Sage and Marjoram , even though the bunches are quite slender.

One of the problems about fresh herbs is that they don't stay fresh very long and soon become a sodden mess when kept in a plastic bag in the fridge. Unless you go veggie shopping everyday, these herbs need to be replenished frequently, and sadly the day that I need one or the other I find a green mass of what looks like seaweed in the said plastic bags instead of  the nice, springy, fragrant leaves I want.

To circumvent such utter disappointment I have taken to freezing my herbs.

Blanch-herbs Herbs-in-ice-waterPack-herbs

All you need is lots of ice, a large bowl and a wire basket  in the same size as a pan.I use a 6 " pan and and a 6" wire basket.

  • First remove any wilted or damaged bits from the herbs , then wash them in cold water. Tie them into tiny bunches .
  • Now bring a pan of water to the boil. When it is giving off a good amount of steam hold the bunch of herbs in a steam/wire strainer/ basket over the pan and  blanch them for  1 minute.
  • Immediately remove the bunch and plunge into a bowl of ice water.
  • Shake of f the excess water and pack in a clean plastic bag and tie.
  • You can now store them in the freezer for individual use. Tada...herbs at hand everyday!