How To Make Paneer (Indian Cheese)

Me and my friend Alana made paneer the other week! I use an exclamation point because paneer is one of my most favorite foods and so it was doubly exciting to actually make it from scratch. It’s kind of like ricotta but tangier, similar in texture to a firm tofu and it absorbs the flavors of curries and marinades really well. If you have not had this cheese yet, you must try and if you have tried and not made – you must make! It’s so easy! I posted about it before here if you’d like to read more about my obssession with this cheese:)

Thanks Alana for taking awesome photos!

8 cups whole milk
1/4 cup lemon juice

Warm milk in a pot under medium heat.

When the milk starts to boil, add lemon juice slowly and stir gently and continuously.

The cheese will start forming in a just seconds.

Turn off the heat when the curd has separated from the whey and the whey is kind of a yellowy green color.

While the curd is settling in the pot for a few minutes, line a colander with 2 or 3 pieces of cheese cloth or other thin cotton cloth (not terry!)

Pour the contents of the pot into the lined colander with a bowl or pot underneath (this is if you want to save the whey as it makes for a good broth in soup or other curries and can also be used as a substitute for water when making rice.) Rinse the curds so that the lemon is washed away.

Wrap the curds tightly in the cloth and then tie around a faucet – I learned this in a cooking class:) Let it hang for about 30 minutes.

Next take it out of the cloth and shape it in a square with height of about an inch and wrap it back in the cloth. Put a heavy weight on top of it. (We had a little bit of fun with what we used – I couldn’t tell you if this is the optimal weight but I have heard pots work well too)

The cheese will become solid after 30 minutes, but we actually put it in the refrigerator for a few hours and I think that helped to dry it out further. If you have time for that, I suggest putting the weighted down block in the fridge.

When firm, cut the paneer into cubes. You can keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days or freeze it for months.

If you want to make your cheese more solid, you can fry it up so that it maintains shape – paneer crumbles easily when heated. You can use the cheese in a curry, marinate it for a barbecue or put it in a sandwich. In the next post, I’ll give you a recipe for saag paneer (spinach and cheese curry).

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