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Say 'Paneer!', And Spread Cheer

Let’s meet the lifeline of a vegetarian's meal and celebrate paneer day. Here is a menu which uses paneer as a starter, main course and a dessert!

Before clicking a photograph we say 'Cheese' to add a bit cheer and happiness, and that’s precisely what paneer does. It brings the smile on the faces with its vast variety of recipes. Paneer is popular not only in Indian subcontinent but all across the world. 

If you are fond of Indian or any other South Asian food, you must have tasted Paneer. It is soft, fresh, tasty and versatile cheese, which is also known to a vegetarian's best friend. Here is all you would ever  want to know about information and various health benefits of paneer along with paneer recipes.

What is Paneer?
Paneer is a type of cheese, referred to as Cottage Cheese in English. An unaged and non-melting cheese, paneer is made by curdling the milk using citric acid from lime juice or vinegar. Its acid-set form (acid-set cottage cheese or cheese curd) is called chhenaPaneer is moist, soft, crumbly in texture and white in colour which is used to make various kinds of recipes.

Many people believe and consider paneer as a substitute for meat. In India, paneer is an essential part of the vegetarian diet.

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The origin of paneer goes as far back as 6000 BC, as per mentions found in the Vedas. Paneer is a fresh cheese often used in the South Asian cuisine akin to Queso Blanco. In eastern part of the subcontinent, which includes West Bengal, Odisha and Bangladesh, chhena or chhana was the traditional alternative to paneer. 

Alternative Names: Poneer, Ponir, Fonir, Chhena, Chhana

Country of Origin: Bangladesh and India 

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Region: East India

Cheese Type: Fresh and soft

Cheese Texture: Chewy, crumbly and firm

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Flavour Profile: Milky

Aroma: Fresh, milky

Made From: Pasteurised cow's or buffalo's milk

How to make Paneer?
For years, paneer or Indian cottage cheese was made at every Indian home. A lot of people get surprised when they get to know how easy is to make Paneer at home. It just requires two ingredients to make such a delicious and soft paneer. People think that it is complicated to make paneer at home, but the truth is, it is much simple and even more delightful when combined with Indian curries!

The Method:

  1. Take a thick bottom pan and add milk, on the medium flame bring it to boil. It will take around 25-30 minutes to heat the milk. 
  2. When the milk begins to boil, switch the flame to low, stir well and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (little at a time).
  3. Continue to stir the milk for 40 to 45 seconds on low heat. The milk will curdle forming curds or milk solids and whey (If the milk does not curdle, add an extra tablespoon of lemon juice).
  4. Once done, turn the flame off and strain the milk solids using a muslin cloth. Pour cold water and wash the milk solids to free from the leftover whey.
  5. Gather the muslin cloth and squeeze out the water from it. Then twist tightly and flatten it.
  6. Place it on a flat plate and put a heavy weight over it and leave it to set for around an hour.
  7. Your paneer is ready. Uncover it and use it for various paneer recipes.

Things to remember while making Paneer

  • Try to use creamy whole cream milk. Creamier the milk better will be the Paneer.
  • You can substitute lemon juice with vinegar.
  • Strained whey can be used for Naan or other bread or even added in curries.
  • Paneer can be frozen too. Refrigerated Paneer will serve up to one week.

Nutritional Facts & Health Benefits of Paneer
Paneer is rich in nutrients essential for a human body. It is a great source of protein, which helps in weight loss. It also has Vitamin D and Calcium, essential for healthy bones and teeth. It also provides us with Iron, Vitamin A, Manganese, Potassium, Selenium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Sodium, etc. Potassium benefits in curbing memory loss and selenium are useful in infertility treatments.

There are various health benefits associated with paneer:
Rich In Protein: Paneer is the solid source of protein. If paneer is made from full cream milk, then it will be high in fat apart from protein. According to experts, 100 gm of paneer consists around 18.3 gm of protein (approximately). Paneer made out of cow milk is a good source of casein protein.

Strengthens Bones and Teeth: Being a great source of calcium, paneer helps in strengthening bones and teeth. It is believed that protein can fulfill around 8% of daily recommended nutritional value in a diet. Calcium helps in maintaining healthy bones, smooth nerve functioning and healthy heart muscles too.

Maintains Blood Sugar Level: It also helps in maintaining blood sugar level. Full of Magnesium it also ensures a better immune system and heart health. Because of high protein, paneer helps in releasing the accurate amount of sugar into the blood.

Improves Digestion: Rich in phosphorus paneer, helps in maintaining digestion. Magnesium has a laxative effect and draws water into the stool preventing constipation. 

Helpful for Pregnant Women: Vitamin B-complex is good for pregnant women. It helps with fetal development and plays an important role in the production of red blood cells.Vitamin B-complex is good for pregnant women. It helps with fetal development and plays an important role in the production of red blood cells. 

Helpful in Weight Loss: Conjugated Linoleic Acid present in paneer helps in enhancing the fat burning process in the human body. Those who want to reduce weight should choose to eat raw paneer for good results.

Acceptance & Versatility
From North to South or East to West, paneer is a widely accepted and loved food ingredient because of its versatility. Paneer is such an ingredient that can be included in any recipe. From flavourful gravies, grilled as a kebab, stuffed in flatbreads, to  desserts as well as eaten raw without any accompaniments, you can do it all with paneer. 

Paneer is easy to cook, it absorbs in curries, spices and marinades easily. It has a mild flavours, crumbly texture and does not change its shape in gravies when cooked. This is a big reason why people have accepted paneer as an important ingredient in many cuisines and have it merged with varieties of recipes which eventually are named paneer recipes. 

Side-Effects & Allergies of Paneer
Paneer made using creamy milk is rich in fat and protein. So, people who live sedentary life may face cholesterol issues with excessive consumption of paneer. Sometimes, it may cause allergies to people who are lactose intolerant. People who are consuming paneer and also indulge in exercises may get the benefit to their body.

One should buy paneer from a good shop because bad quality paneer may end-up resulting in food poisoning. The better option is to have homemade paneer. It has a high moisture content and that is the reason it is considered a highly perishable food. Sometime it may cause the issue of hypertension because of the presence of sodium.

Paneer Recipes
Starters : Paneer Tikka
The favourite paneer tikka with tangy spices is enjoyed by everyone at any Indian dinner party or any of the occasion. This lip-smacking dish will be a treat for anyone.
Ingredients Required of Paneer Tikka
Paneer ½ Kg
Tomato 1
Onion 1
Capsicum 1

For Marination
Cumin Seeds ½ Tbsp
Coriander Seeds ½ Tbsp
Black Cardamom 1
Green Cardamom 1
Cloves ½ Tbsp
Black Pepper ½ Tbsp
Star Anise 2 Pieces
Shahi Jeera ½ Tbsp
Ginger-Garlic Paste 3 Tbsp
Turmeric Powder 2 Tsp
Red Chilli Powder 2 Tsp
Coriander Powder 2 Tsp
Salt As per Taste
Kashmiri Chilli Powder 2 Tsp
Refined Oil 2 Tbsp
Lime ½ Tbsp
Mango Powder ½ Tbsp
Chaat Masala ½ Tbsp
Chopped Green Chillies 2
Whisked Curd 100 Gms
Garam Masala ½ Tbsp
Chopped Coriander Leaves        
Chopped Mint Leaves

The Process to make Paneer Tikka

For Marination :

Take a pan and dry roast and pound cumin seeds, brown cardamom, coriander seeds, cloves, green cardamom, black pepper, shahi jeera, star anise in a mortar and pestle.

 

Take a bowl and add ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt, coriander powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, coriander leaves, refined oil, mint leaves, dry mango powder, lime, green chilli, chaat masala, curd and Garam masala. Mix it well.

 

For Grilling Paneer Tikka :

Take a tray and spread paneer cubes, onion and tomatoes.

Marinate the paneer cubes gently and adequately. Also, mix the masala.

Now, rest the marinated paneer tikkas for 45 minutes in the fridge.

Later, Grill the Tikkas until golden brown from all the sides.

Your Paneer Tikka is ready to serve

 

Paneer Recipes: Main Course: Palak Paneer

One of the most popular & healthy North Indian dish which can be served with Roti, Paratha or any other bread.

Spinach Puree                                   -              500 Gram

Paneer Cubes                                            -      15 to 16

Oil                                                                                   -      2 Tbsp

Cumin Seeds                                              -      1 Tsp

Bay Leaf                                                                       -      1

Finely Chopped Ginger                  -              1 Tsp

Finely Chopped Garlic                    -              1 Tsp

Boiled onion paste (Grated)        -              1 Cup

Tomato Puree                                           -      1/2 Cup

Salt                                                                                 -      2 Tsp

Garam Masala                                   -              ½ Tsp

Powdered Red Pepper                  -              ½ Tsp

Crushed Coriander Powder         -              ½ Tsp

Black Cardamom                                              -              2 No

Cream                                                           -      1 Tbsp

 

The Process to make Palak Paneer

Take a pressure cooker and boil the spinach. Post that, make a fine Puree.

Take a pan and heat the oil, cook paneer cubes until golden brown.

Take paneer out from the pan and add cumin seeds and bay leaf.

When it begins to crackle, add ginger-garlic-onion paste, saute for few minutes.

Then add red pepper, coriander powder, salt and garam masala. Mix well.

Add tomato puree and cook on Medium Flame.

 

Time to add Spinach Puree. Mix well and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add Paneer cubes and mix gently so that they absorb the flavour.

Take it into the serving plate. Pour a spoon of cream.

Your Palak Paneer is ready. Serve hot with the bread of your choice.

 

Paneer Recipes: Dessert: Sandesh (Bengali Sweet)

You must be unaware that the popular Bengali sweet Sandesh is made using Paneer. It is specially made during Durga Puja festival. One of the simplest recipes ‘Sandesh’ hardly takes 15 minutes to make. It is always recommended to use fresh paneer or chhena for making sandesh.

 

Ingredients Required to make Sandesh

Paneer                                                     -          150 Gm

Grated khoya                                        -          ½ Cup

Crushed Green Cardamom         -               4

Saffron                                                     -          A few

Sugar / Gur                                             -          6 Tbsp

Almonds (Shredded lengthwise) -            6

 

The process to make Sandesh

Take Paneer, Sugar/Gur or Khoya together and blend until smooth. You can use a mixer blender or any flat utensil to mash them.

Mix elaichi and set in a layer of around ½” thick.

To set the Sandesh, refrigerate it.

Your Sandesh is ready. Cut it into Square or diamond shape and serve.

 

Conclusion:

Prepare Paneer at home, eat good food and stay healthy forever. Celebrate Paneer Day at your home by making these recipes.

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