Make paneer at home easily using this method. The video shown below also gives a demonstration of this process. You will soon have healthy, lean protein. The best part is that even pregnant women and toddlers can eat it safely, even if it is not cooked. Kids love it as finger food. I enjoy it in my salads, especially with my vinaigrette dressing.
Paneer is now a common ingredient all over the world. I do buy packs of it from stores. In places I am confident, I also get it “loose” from large, creamy white blocks. But I still find it sooo satisfying to make it at home.
Besides, when I was pregnant, it was drilled into me in the prenatal classes that the only paneer I could eat was the homemade kind. I guess that advice stayed on when I wanted to give the best for my kids too.
The best part is that
- I get to choose the fat content, as low fat varieties can yield healthier paneer. Though the use of low fat milk is laughed at by many, I have got used to the texture and have enjoyed it regardless of the fact that it is not the softest of paneers.
- I get to use the whey that is formed as a by-product, and enjoy its goodness as well.
I remember a time when South India had less exposure to Paneer. On one of my Summer trips to Tiruchirapalli, I was trying to make a side-dish and demanded paneer. My Aunt had to buy a tinned version from a store that stocked “unusual” stuff as no one had even heard of fresh kind! This was around 35 years ago, before I started making paneer at home.👩🍳
Making Paneer at home in four easy steps:
For a yield of around 200 grams of paneer, you will need a litre of milk. Being the health conscious person I am, I use double toned milk for making my paneer if I am not expecting guests.
The difference is that the paneer will not be quite as soft, and be a little crumbly. You will not get perfect cubes. But it is still good stuff!
Of course you can choose to use any other kind of milk instead.
The Procedure for making paneer at home:
1. Boil the milk
Bring a litre of milk to boil. I make my paneer with double toned (low fat) milk. This gives leaner and healthier paneer. You can choose toned or full cream if you wish.
Take it off the stove.
2. Curdle the milk
Add a cup of the previous day’s curds (yoghurt) to the hot liquid, stir and wait for the magic to happen. Here you can use full fat curd if you wish to cheat a bit…curd has half the calories and can enhance the taste very well. I use regular low fat curd.
The milk separates into white clumps and greenish water, also called whey. Sometimes it needs a nudge with a few drops of lemon juice and a minute on the stove with stiring.
3. Cool the cheese
The hero is of course the white ‘cheese’, which you gather in a muslin cloth. This has to be cooled so it does not keep cooking. Hence it is dipped, cloth and all, in a bowl of ice cold water (you can even use ice cubes)
4. Set the cheese
Once the cheese attains room temperature, take the muslin cloth out (with the cheese in it) and place it in between the reverse sides of two steel plates. Place a weight not more than the weight of the milk on it. Hence if you are using 1 litre of milk, place a weight of approximately 1 kilogram on the paneer. Using heavier weights will give you tougher paneer.
This removes excess whey and helps it to set into a thick “cheese” that you can cut or crumble and use.
This solid does not have to be fermented or processed further. It is ready for consumption and can be used in any recipe of your choice. Just cut into cubes or crumble, and it’s good to go into the dish of your choice.
In case you do not want to use it immediately, store the block in the refrigerator, in the coolest zone, in a box of clean water without cutting it. This water needs to be replaced every day. In any case, you must use the paneer within 3 days, otherwise it will get a slimy, yellow microbial growth, indicating that it is spoilt.
I have frozen paneer successfully, firmly wrapped in aluminium foil. This will be fine for bhurji or for gravies.
For Making Softer Paneer Using Low Fat Milk
- Make paneer with good, thick curd/yoghurt to curdle the milk.
- Do not cook the ‘cheese’ once it separates, instead cool it with ice cubes
- Do not weigh down the paneer with a weight heavier than the weight of the milk
- Store the paneer in water in the fridge
You will surely get good paneer if you follow these steps. See if you don’t get a thrill every time you make it!
How Paneer is Used in Food
Vegetarians in India have two common choices when it comes to replacing chicken or mutton side dishes—paneer or soya. So paneer finds its way into many Indian foods because it is tasty, protein packed and so versatile.
I often use it when I am in a huge hurry, as it can be quickly converted into what a friend used to call a “happening” dish!
Also, if you are in a situation where you are not able to get fresh paneer, you can go ahead and simply make it at home.
Some of my favourite recipes with paneer are my simple versions of the paneer tikka, paneer sides using whey, cheesecake, party dip, salad, paneer pulao and the quintessential paneer bhurji! Recently I also stumbled on the trick to make a red gravy with no colouring agents whatsoever… you can find the secret recipe here!
My rule of thumb has been to always cook the paneer I buy from stores. Raw paneer for dips and salads, from my kitchen, are always homemade.