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Paneer - Indian cottage cheese




In Germany, we have about 150 different types of cheese, such as Bergkäse, Emmentaler, Butterkäse, Handkäse, to name a few. Here in India, there is only one, Paneer.


With only two ingredients, milk and lemons, it can be made in no time. In addition, you will need a straining cloth or fine-mesh cake cloth and a heavy weight, such as a mortar for pressing.

What is Paneer

Paneer is a fresh cheese made by heating and souring cow's milk. The versatile cheese does not melt when fried or baked and is often used in Indian cuisine to enrich vegetarian dishes.


Homemade Paneer differs from ready-made store-bought products simply in that it is very creamy and fresh, and thus very similar to cottage cheese. The only difference between traditional Indian Paneer and regular cottage cheese is that cottage cheese contains a little salt.

Origin of Paneer

In India, cottage cheese is known as Paneer, which is a common ingredient in vegetarian dishes in every Indian household. According to the renowned guru of Indian food history, K.T. Acharya, the origin of Paneer dates back to the 17th century, when Portuguese traders taught the "moyras" (confectioners) of Bengal how to curdle heated milk with acid (lemon juice) and separate the milk solids. This process was called "Chhana" (derived from the Bengali verb for filtering "chhanka" which became "Chhena" in Hindi when it reached the central provinces of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.


It became Paneer in the cuisine of the Mughal rulers. The term Paneer comes from the word "peynir," which simply means cheese in Turkish and Persian.


Paneer is the most common unripened and non-melting cheese used in many traditional Indian dishes. Paneer does not require fermentation or curing. Unlike many other cheeses in the world, no rennet is used in the production of Paneer. It is therefore absolutely vegetarian friendly.

About this recipe

I learned how to prepare Paneer while I was in school. It is a simple process where milk is first boiled and curdled with a food acid and then pressed to form a solid cheese.


The curdled milk is strained and pressed into a cheesecloth, such as a straining or fine-mesh kitchen cloth. The leftover whey can either be discarded or saved for later use.


After just 30 minutes, you'll have a nice block of fresh homemade paneer ready to store in the fridge and use in your favorite dishes.


This simple homemade Paneer recipe creates the softest and most tender Paneer, and without preservatives or special additives.

5 edible acids that curdle milk

  1. Lemon juice or lime juice: adding lemon juice will give your homemade Paneer a soft and firm texture. For one liter of milk, you can add about 1 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, depending on the quality of the milk.

  2. Vinegar: A firm and soft texture is also achieved by adding vinegar. Add about 2 to 3 teaspoons of white vinegar or Apple Cider vinegar to 1 quart of milk. Vinegar makes the milk curdle faster.

  3. Cottage Cheese or Yogurt: Fresh Cottage Cheese will give you a softer and juicier paneer. You can add about 3 to 4 tablespoons of fresh curd or yogurt if you want to make a Paneer recipe with 1 litre of milk.

  4. Buttermilk: Using buttermilk also gives an equally soft and firm paneer. Add 4 to 5 tablespoons of buttermilk to a litre of milk.

  5. Citric acid: I don't use citric acid because it makes the cheese too firm. But you can try it in combination with lemon juice or vinegar.

I prefer to make a firmer Paneer by squeezing the whey with an object that weighs at least 500 - 600 grams. This method takes only 30-40 minutes and can be done in a colander over a pot or bowl.


Remove the weight and open the cloth. I used 2 liters (8 cups) of milk and made about 400 grams of homemade Paneerfrom it.


Use the Paneer immediately for cooking or put it in the refrigerator for later. It can be stored there in an airtight container for up to a week.

Expert tips

Milk: For the tastiest Paneer, I recommend using whole milk. Pasteurized or unpasteurized is fine, but for the best results, the milk should be high quality. Do not use tinted or skim milk to make Paneer Without a lot of fat, the Paneer will be much too hard. Always use fresh milk.


Food Grade Acid: You can use any of the four ingredients that curdle the milk as mentioned above, but do keep in mind that each of these ingredients adds a touch of flavor to Paneer. Therefore, use buttermilk or curd to make Paneer with the mildest flavor.


Cream: You needn’t to remove cream that might float in the milk during cooking. In fact, the natural cream contained in the milk softens the Paneer. Additionally, you can add 2 to 3 tablespoons of cream to the milk before heating, which will soften the Paneer.


Simmer: Do not continue to boil the milk once it has completely curdled. Immediately remove from heat and strain the milk. Otherwise, overcooking will result in an unpleasantly hard, crumbly cheese.


Storage: Keep the Paneer soft in the refrigerator by placing it in a bowl and soaking the Paneer block in water. If the paneer becomes hard, you can soak the block in warm water on the countertop for a minute or two. Homemade Paneercan be kept refrigerated for up to a week or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.


FAQs

How does Paneer stay firm when added to curry or sauce recipes? My Paneer gets too soft and crumbles.

Use whole milk first when making a Paneer recipe. Paneer made with toned milk, skimed milk, or low-fat milk breaks down quickly when boiled and does not firm up well. Make sure you drain the whey very well. Keeping Paneer r in the refrigerator also helps it to firm up..

How long can I freeze Paneer? Does cooking it work well after thawing?

Freeze the Paneer for a month or two. Keep the Paneer in warm water while thawing or let it thaw at room temperature. Yes, thawed Paneer works well in your dishes.

Even after adding lemon juice, the milk will not curdle, help

If there's more fat in the milk, you'll need to add more lemon juice to curdle it. So keep adding some lemon juice and stir the mixture until you see that all the milk has curdled.

Why is my Paneer crumbly or grainy?

If you let the milk continue to simmer for a minute after it has curdled, the Paneer r will become grainy and crumbly. If you add too much lemon juice or vinegar, the Paneer will also become crumbly or grainy..

How long does it take for the milk to curdle?

If the right amount of lemon juice is added, it only takes a few seconds for the milk to curdle.


Ingredients for about 400 g

  • 2 L milk (3.5% fat)

  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions

Bring the milk to a slow boil in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Stir regularly so that no film forms on the surface and the milk does not stick to the bottom of the pot.

In the meantime, prepare your workspace. Line a colander with a straining cloth or fine mesh kitchen towel and place everything in the sink. You could also line the pot directly with the straining cloth or fine-mesh piecloth, but using a strainer is very helpful in avoiding mess.

Reduce the heat as soon as the milk begins to come to a boil. Now it's time to add the food acid of your choice:

  • Lemon juice - 2 to 4 tablespoons

  • Vinegar - 4 to 6 teaspoons

  • buttermilk - 8 to 10 tablespoons

  • Curd - at least 6 to 8 tablespoons

The amount of acid needed depends on the quality of the milk used. The more fat in the milk the more food acid you will need to make your Paneer. For this recipe of Paneer, I used lemon juice as the acid. It is my favorite because it gives me a mild and fresh cheese flavor.

Stir in the lemon juice to curdle the milk. The milk must curdle completely before you can prepare Paneer.Keep stirring the milk to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

After the milk has completely curdled and you see a greenish whey (this is the separation of the whey and protein), remove the mixture from the heat and set aside for a few minutes.

Slowly pour the milk-soilds into the lined strainer and strain the whey

Gather the corners of the cloth and twist tighter and tighter over the cheese curds until the cloth is very tight against thePaneer ball. Be careful, the curdled milk mixture will be very hot. Lift the bundle and let it drain until it stops dripping.

Run fresh water over the held bundle to rinse the curds. This will ensure that the lemon or vinegar flavors are also rinsed out with the water. If you used curd or buttermilk, you don't need to do this step.

Holding the cloth like this, place a weight on the cheese and continue draining.Use a mortar or some stacked plates to create the necessary weight.

After 30 to 40 minutes of pressing, the Paneer is ready. The longer you leave the weight on the Paneer, the firmer your cheese will be. For a softer texture, take the weight off earlier (after about 25 minutes).


Now you have a nice block of smooth and tender Paneer.

Use the Paneer immediately for cooking, or for later wrapped in plastic wrap and packed in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The Paneer will keep this way for 6 to 7 days..


Tips

  • For an extra firm Paneer, you can stir a few tablespoons of powdered milk into the milk.

  • You can also collect the whey and use it for chapati or paratha dough. The whey helps the dough to become smooth and soft





I look forward to hearing from you...

...if you like my blog, my recipes inspire you and your curiosity for Indian cuisine has been piqued. Feel free to give me feedback if you would like to share your cooking accomplishments or have a suggestion for improvement. I appreciate any kind feedback. Whether via the comment function, email, Facebook or Instagram (best tagged with #heutemalindisch and @heutemalindisch, then your cooking success can also inspire others).

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