How to Make Paneer - Indian Milk Cheese
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How to Make Paneer - Indian Milk Cheese

Paneer is one such cheese that is made from curdled cheese. In most Northern Indian languages, paneer actually means cheese but because this cheese is popular and well known, it seems to have appropriated the name for it.


Vegetarians mostly get a balanced intake of protein though beans and lentils, soy products and quite a few milk products at each meal ranging from plain glasses of cold buttermilk to complicated milk based sweets as mostly Indians do.

Because of the generally high temperature in India, the life of milk has to be stretched in every possible way that the climate allows, welcome to the various cheeses – which are prepared since earliest time with great success.

Paneer is one such cheese that is made from curdled cheese. In most Northern Indian languages, paneer actually means cheese but because this cheese is popular and well known, it seems to have appropriated the name for it.

As fresh paneer is readily available in most Indian grocery and bazaars (just as bean curd or tofu is in China and Japan), paneer is seldom home made. However, making it is complicated and requires an overnight wait.

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3 cups whole milk

2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

Bring the milk into a boil. As soon as it begins to boil or bubbles is visible, put in the lemon juice, stir once, and take off the pot off the heat. Leave it for 15 minutes. The milk will curdle and the curds will separate from the naturally.

Strain the curds through layers of cheesecloth. Squeeze as much as whey as you can easily. (You can use the whey in cooking instead of water.) Tie up the curds in the cheesecloth using twine to make a round bundle. Use sufficient twine to hang up this bundle somewhere to drip overnight.

Next day, untie the hanging bundle and gently platen it out to make a 4-inch patty keeping the cheese loosely wrapped in the cheesecloth. Put the cheesecloth-wrapped cheese patty on a plate and place a heavy object on top of it. I used my medium size clay pot filled up with water and leave the pressed cheese for 4-5 hours.

The size of the width depends on the weight you put on the press. It can give a ½ or ¾ inch thick. You can cut it into rectangles, cubes or as you desire.

Paneer is quite crumbly and breaks easily and because of this it is fried and lightly brown before it is cooked. But there are some dishes in which the cheese is not fried at all. Like bean curd, has very little taste of its own.

Some people like to add a little freshly grounded pepper and some finely minced Chinese parsley to the curd just after the whey has been strained, before it is tied and hang up. I usually add freshly minced pimiento, salt and pepper.

Paneer does have texture and lots of protein. The taste comes from the flavor of the foods in which it is cooked.

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Paneer Pakora

In the traditional dish of the Punjabis, paneer is combined with tomatoes and peas.

It is frequently crumbled and added to grated vegetables like squash and zucchini to form “meatballs.”

I usually added it in asparagus slightly fried with butter or mixed it with broccoli and “oyster” mushrooms.

Note: My heart felt remembrance of this book, "World of East Vegetarian Cooking", by Madhur Jaffrey, was given to me in the late 80's by a good friend who worked in the San Francisco Opera House. This book is very important to me and I still use this book until today.


Ronthoughts Journal – Cooking

World of East Vegetarian Cooking – Madhur Jaffrey

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Comments (7)

Your information is so complete with great detail. I appreciate your knowledge and ease to follow too. Out of votes so will promote and thank you to award your research.

Oh boy! Fantastic article Ron.

good going

Thanks for the excellent article, Ron! I also want to check out the book you mention at the end.

Thanks everyone for the read, votes and comments. Yes Stacey, mine is the old edition, there must be new edition by this time, thanks.

Nice reading this article. Being an Indian, I can just say I love paneer. Thanks for a detailed piece. Voted up! :)

Thanks Rox.