This is one of those recipes I whipped up with whatever was at hand. Usually the method works, sometimes not. With paneer, smetana and cream it is impossible to fail.
Smetana is an Eastern European specialty made by souring heavy cream. Depending of the amount of fat, the consistency varies from creamy to buttery. The famous Ukrainian borsch is served with it, as is the Russian blini. In Poland my mother in law makes delicious pierogi, boiled vegetable dumplings that come either with browned butter crumbs or a dab of smetana.
Another Slavic ingredient I’ve used is quark. It is a strained sour milk product similar to but thicker than yoghurt. It is made without rennet by adding a starter culture. It is often inaccurately translated as curd or cottage cheese. It is closest to fromage frais, a kind of fresh cheese originating in Northern France and Southern Belgium. In Germany, it is known as Sahnequark. If you don’t have access to it, you will have to improvise with the amounts of fresh cheese and cream in the recipe. The ingredients are not written in stone. Smetana can be substituted by sour cream or crème fraiche.
This cheesecake is luxurious. One piece goes a long way. If you have issues with heartburn, eat it way before lying down in the evening. Otherwise, it will keep you awake.