Paneer is a fresh cheese commonly made in India and other South Asian countries.
Like many people, paneer for me too, had always been something bought from the stores. However, recently after my hubby and I had moved to a ‘Low Carb and High Fat‘ diet, paneer has become our staple food, contributing to at least one meal of the day!
Paneer or ‘Indian cottage cheese’ or Chenna(as it is called in some parts of India and Bangladesh), can easily be made at home by adding natural substances. Once you dig into this and know how easy and healthy it is to make paneer at home, you will never buy from outside again.
In this post I will explain the’step by step’ procedure for making your own paneer.
You will need:
- Milk (full fat) – 1 Litre
- Lemons – 2 or 3 medium sized
- Lemon squeezer
- Metal strainer
- A ladle
- Cheese cloth or muslin or a thin cotton cloth
- Wide sauce pan or vessel – 2 nos ( 1 to boil milk, other to strain it)
- Heat milk in a medium flame.
- When it is about to boil, reduce the flame and squeeze the lemon juice into it.
- Stir the milk to help the lemon juice spread evenly.
- After a couple of stirs, the milk will start to curdle. When you try to gather the curdled milk with a ladle, if you see clear whey separated completely, then you are done.
- Otherwise, if you still see milk, give a stir and add a little more lemon juice.
- Once the whey has completely separated, turn off the flame.
- Let it rest for 5 mins.
- Now, spread the muslin or cheese cloth over the metal strainer and keep this over a vessel.
- Pour the curdled milk into the strainer.
- Once all the whey is completely strained, wrap the cloth and tie a knot or make a potli
- Gently squeeze the bundle to strain the remaining whey. (You can store the strained whey and use it in gravies etc).
- Now, try bringing the knot to the sides of the bundle (or leave it at the top ) and keep it on a wide plate in a flat surface.
- Put a heavy object on top of this (please make sure that it is carefully balanced and there is no risk of toppling or fall). I usually keep a pot full of water or chapathi rolling stone.
- Let it rest for at least 2-3 hours or even more.
- Now, remove the cloth and carefully slice your paneer into cubes of required sizes.
Depending on the type of the milk used, the colour of the paneer may vary from yellowish to white. Similarly, the more heavier the object you place and the more resting time you allow (and also the better the ‘potli’ is made), the paneer block will be nice and solid.
Alternatively, instead of lemon juice, you can also add ‘curd’ to make paneer. You will need, approximately, curd made with 250 ml milk to curdle 1 liter of milk (however this again varies from region to region depending on the milk and other factors).
Also, paneer made with curd is comparatively more softer and the color will be slightly yellowish.
Some Interesting facts about paneer:
Some of the famous delicacies ‘Rasgulla’ and ‘Rasmalai’ are prepared from paneer or chhena.
‘Chhena Poda’ a famous dessert from the Indian state ‘Odisha’, is made from kneaded Chhena.
I still cherish my first ‘Holi’ day celebration after my wedding, at my in-laws place in Odisha where all the neighbours gathered and cut a ‘Chhena poda’ as a cake!
I don’t miss to relish this wonderful dish (and of course ‘rabdi’) whenever I visit my in laws place.