Paneer - the easiest cheese to make ever!
Paneer, or cottage cheese is a very accessible ingredient in India. It is a type of white cheese which is unsalted in nature, separated from milk using pantry based acidic ingredients like lemon juice, or vinegar, and doesn’t melt upon heating. Indians love adding paneer to vegetarian curries, and store bought paneer often comes in with the relief of not preparing vegetables for meals. Just cut the paneer in cubes, and leave it in a gravy of your choice! Since paneer is made from milk, one would find almost all the nutritional properties if milk preserved after the separation process. It is rich in calcium, and iron, and provide ample energy for its mass.
I enjoy an occasional recipe with Paneer, but store bought paneer can be expensive in Netherlands. Thus, I set out to make some of my own. After a few trial and errors, this is the method that I believe gets me the most amount of paneer for the milk that I use, and leaves the most translucent liquid behind. Typically, if the leftover liquid is still milky in color, it needs a bit more extraction. This is when one should stop stirring, allow the milk to rest and get heated up, and separate on its own! I am a constant stirrer, because of which, I never got enough paneer. Patience is virtue, said someone!
I love making paneer butter masala out of marinated paneer cubes, and the spinach based recipe that I made with tofu the other evening is traditionally made out of paneer. It also works great in sandwiches and my favourite has to be the Bombay toast. I’m curious to hear about your paneer making stories!
Produces: 500 grams of paneer
Time to cook: 30 minutes
- 4 litres Whole milk
- 1 lemon
- 4 tbsp Vinegar
- Cheese cloth or any thin cotton cloth
- Pour the milk in a large saucepan and turn the heat on to medium flame. Starr occasionally to avoid the milk burning at the bottom of the pan and allow it to heat up until before it just starts to boil. This is the temperature when I’d say the milk is comfortable to drink!
- Add the juice of a lemon and the vinegar and stir into the milk. Allow the milk to continue heating up, stirring once every 5 minutes.
- After about 15 minutes, the paneer separates and forms a thick layer on top. This is when one should strain the paneer using a cheese cloth.
- Run cold water through the cheesecloth for the acidic flavour from lemon & vinegar to reduce, and for the cooking process to stop.
- If possible, hang the cheesecloth overnight for the water to drain out and you’ll get a nice lump of paneer next morning.