As I mentioned earlier, we do not get good Paneer or cottage cheese at the grocery store and I have been making Paneer at home since as long as I can remember. In fact, I grew up watching my mom making it. Only when I need it in bulk, I buy Paneer from outside.
Homemade Paneer is better as it is fresh and without any citric acid or any other preservative. Fresh Paneer can be eaten raw and if you have a sweet tooth then dust some sugar on it and eat it.( my late sister-in-law would crave for it when she was pregnant)
Making Paneer or Indian cottage cheese at home is quite simple and easy. It is not a fermented or cured like other cheese. It is made by curdling milk and then draining off the whey using a muslin cloth. The cheese is then pressed and used as desired. Getting perfect soft Paneer each time involves no rocket science except a couple of things to remember.
To get soft Paneer, I suggest the use of fresh whole milk or full-fat milk. Yogurt, lemon juice or vinegar can be used to curdle the milk.
Paneer is a fresh cottage cheese common in North Indian cuisine. It is of Indian origin and was mentioned even in the Vedas. Another good thing about this Paneer or cottage cheese is that it is unsalted.
How to make Paneer or Cottage Cheese at home
1 litre milk=200gm Paneer approx
2 tbsp vinegar
Or Juice of 1 lemon
Or 4 tbsp curd
Bring the milk to a boil.
When the milk starts boiling, add the lemon juice or vinegar. Keep stirring.
If the milk doesn’t curdle then add more vinegar or lime juice.
As soon the milk completely curdles, turn off the flame.
Leave the curdled milk for a few minutes and let the whey separate completely.
Strain the milk in a white muslin cloth.
Hang the cloth and the whey drain.
Collect the cloth together and place it on a plate and keep a heavy weight on top of the cheesecloth. (Simple and easy way is to fill the milk vessel and place it on the cloth to press it down to remove the whey) You can use a mortar too or even a marble chakla.
The Paneer would be set in about 15 to 20 mins.
If you are not using the Paneer right then, take some water in a box and immerse the Paneer in it. Store it in the fridge. It would be good for 3-4 days.
When you want to use it cut Paneer into cubes or any shape you desire.
You have smooth soft homemade Paneer ready to make any recipes like paneer butter masala, mutter paneer, malai kofta, kadhai paneer, palak paneer, chili paneer, or paneer tikka recipe or even a dessert.
Tips for making good Paneer:
Use good quality milk.
Once the milk curdles and whey separates’ completely then don’t boil it anymore. Remove from fire immediately and strain it.
If you overcook the Paneer will turn out hard.
Do not let the Paneer hang for more than 5 minutes.
Even when you press the Paneer, do not leave it pressed for long or it would be dry.
The whey can be used to knead dough or added to dal.People pay thousands and buy whey powder to build muscles.
You can also cool it and water your home or garden plants like I do.
Now that you have learned How to make Paneer or Cottage Cheese at home, share what you have made with it.
I have a couple of recipes with paneer here