Paneer/Indian Cottage Cheese is one of the most versatile ingredients used in Indian-subcontinent especially in Northern India and some parts of Eastern India in the states of West Bengal and Orissa(popularly known as Chenna). It is used in a variety of dishes from snacks and starters to main course curries, from filling in breads like paranthas to desserts. It is one cheese that can be made quickly at home and does not require any aging or culturing process. It can be used widely in hot curries or making so many other dishes as it does not melt like other cheese when mixed with hot curries, fried or heated. Making Paneer at home is such an easy process. My mom always made Paneer at home from the fresh milk that we got from a nearby local dairy. I hardly remember that she used store bought Paneer.
To make Paneer at home we need just milk, lemon/vinegar/yogurt. Full fat/whole milk is the best to make Paneer as it more of the curds as compared to reduced or skim milk. Lemon/Vinegar/Yogurt are used to curdle milk as these are acidic in nature so when added to hot boiling milk separate the curds from the whey. The whey is strained and curds are collected in a cheesecloth. Homemade Paneer is soft, it should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within 3-4 days.
Here is the detailed process of making Paneer at home.
Take about a litre of full-fat milk in milk boiling pan, and keep it on medium flame to boil.
In a bowl mix together 1 Tbsp of vinegar and juice of half lemon/lime. You can also use yogurt( around 1/2 cup) also. Actually, I never measured how much vinegar or lemon I add to milk while making Paneer, until / I decided to do this post. So this time I measured vinegar and lemon ratio. Yogurt is always around 1/2 cup for a litre of milk. If you need to ad more you can, it depends on the yougurt useed and the quality of mailk also.
Let the milk come to full boil then add lemon/vinegar or yogurt mix well and switch off the flame. The milk will immediately start to curdle and the whey will start separating. Let it stand for 5-10 minutes. The whole process of separation of whey from milk curds (cheese)takes around 10 minutes.
Line a big strainer with a cheesecloth, keep some container under it to collect the whey. Once all the milk has curdled and the whey separates from curds, carefully transfer the mixture into the strainer. Run the strainer under water to remove the acidic smell of vinegar and lemon(optional if there is too much of smell).
Gather cheesecloth together and squeeze the cheese in cheesecloth to strain out the extra water.
Keep it back on the strainer and out some heavy vessel or a pan filled with water over it. It helps to drain away the extra water from the cheese and gives a good shape to cheese block while it sets.
Keep it for a couple of hrs or at least minimum 1-2 hrs. Then you can store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or cut into cubes to use it.
In case you want to use fresh Paneer for using in any desserts like Mini Rasgulla for my Mini Rasgulla Kheer or Kalakand the there is no need to set into a block. Just squeeze out the water properly and use it in the recipe.
Since homemade Paneer is very soft, the cubes can crumble when added and mixed in gravies. I suggest add homemade Paneer cubes at the end and mix in the curry very gently.
Paneer can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Some of the ways in which you can use Paneer...
- Crumbled Paneer can be used for making Paneer Bhurji that can you can have as a side dish with Chappatis/Paranthas or can be used as filling for sandwiches, dosa or rolls.
- Use Paneer in a wide variety of curries like Matar Paneer, Paneer Makhani, Palak Paneer and many more.
- The most famous tikkas for vegetarians are Paneer tikkas.
- Fresh crumbled Paneer can be used as filling in paranthas and for making cutlets when mixed with potatoes or lentils along with breadcrumbs.
- Many of the famous Indian desserts like Rasgulla are fresh Paneer/Chenna based.
For Paneer recipes from my blog click here Paneer Dishes. Will keep on updating this page as and when I will be doing any Paneer posts.
So make fresh Paneer and make and enjoy the endless Paneer dishes!!
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