Paneer, a good source of protein, is a star ingredient in several vegetarian dishes. It may be called cottage cheese, but unlike other types of cheese that need to be aged or cultured, you can easily make paneer at home and consume it right away.
All you need is whole milk (2 litres), something acidic like lemon juice or vinegar (2 teaspoon) to coagulate the milk and some loose-woven gauze-like cotton cloth (cheesecloth); and follow these five easy steps:
- Heat the milk (avoid using skim, non-fat, homogenised and Ultra High Temperature pasteurised milk; these don’t separate as easily into curd and whey) in a saucepan, over medium flame and stir it occasionally. Just when the milk begins to simmer, and before it boils, switch off the gas.
- Add the lemon juice/vinegar, and stir well. The milk should curdle. Cover the saucepan with a lid and let it stand for 15 minutes. This is enough time to separate the curd and the whey.
- Line a bowl with the cheesecloth and set a strainer on it. Carefully pour the curd into the strainer, letting the whey collect in the bowl beneath. (This whey can be used to make smoothies—it’s healthy!)
- Gather the cheesecloth and gently squeeze to remove the excess whey to make the Paneer firmer. Hang this to let the whey drip out for a few hours. Flatten on a plate and fold the cheesecloth tightly around the curd to form a neat rectangular package.
- Place a plate on top of the package, and a heavy object to weigh it down—this will flatten and make the paneer firmer. Now you can cut it into cubes. If you want the Paneer to be firmer, simply refrigerate it for a maximum of two days.
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