Paneer is a type of unsalted white cheese commonly used in Indian dishes. This product is made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice. Unlike other types of white cheese, paneer does not melt when heated. It has a crumbly, moist texture and a mild, milky flavor. Because this cheese is vegetarian-friendly, it suits meat-free dishes as well as curries. Want to make your own paneer at home? Below is a simple paneer recipe to try:
You will need:
8 cups whole milk
¼ cup lemon juice
Making the Cheese
In a large pot, simmer the milk into a boil. Add the lemon juice gradually while mixing the milk. After 10 to 15 minutes of mixing, the milk will start separating from the whey. Wait until the curdled milk is completely separated from the whey before switching the stove off. Once you switched off the stove, let the pot sit for a few minutes.
After letting the milk and whey stand for a few minutes, line a colander with cheesecloth or thin cloth. Place the cloth over a large bowl. Now, pour the milk solids and whey into the colander. Carefully take the opposite ends of the cloth and tie them together. Lift the cloth out of the colander and give it a good squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible from the cheese.
Hanging the Cheese
Get a wide-mouthed jug; slip a large spoon across the brim of the jar to hang the cloth with the paneer from the spoon handle. Leave the paneer to hang inside the jug for at least 30 minutes. Now, remove the bundle from the jug and open it. Carefully untie the knot of the paneer bundle and fold the cloth smoothly across the milk solid. Place a heavy weight on top of the paneer and leave that on for at least 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, the paneer should be dense and firm to the touch. Now open the cloth, and cut the paneer into desired cubes. It is now ready to use.
Do not throw away the whey. You can save it to make chapatti dough or as stock for curries and soups. If you are not using the whey immediately, transfer it to a clean container and pop it in the freezer for later use.
If you need a firmer paneer for tikkas, add about half a teaspoon of all-purpose flour to the paneer after hanging and kneading it lightly into a dough. Flatten the cheese on a baking dish and pop it in the fridge to chill for about an hour. After an hour, take it off the fridge and cut into cubes.
Although paneer is unsalted, you can also add salt to adjust the flavor. Just make sure to add the salt after the hanging process, not before. Then, knead the cheese before popping it into the fridge to chill.
Finally, if you do not have lemon juice or vinegar, you can use lime juice or other citrus juice as a substitute.