Paneer is an Indian non melting cheese. No matter what temperature you cook, it doesn’t melt so it can be fried or sauted and used in many curries and dishes.
Paneer (pronounced [pəniːr]) is a fresh cheese common in South Asia, especially in Indian, Pakistani, Afghan, Nepali, Sri Lankan, and Bangladeshi cuisines. It is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese or curd cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar, or any other food acids. Its crumbly and moist form is called chhena in eastern India and in Bangladesh.
Paneer is prepared by adding food acid, such as lemon juice, vinegar, citric acid or yogurt, to hot milk to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are drained in muslin or cheesecloth and the excess water is pressed out. The resulting paneer is dipped in chilled water for 2–3 hours to improve its texture and appearance. From this point, the preparation of paneer diverges based on its use and regional tradition.
In most Nepalese cuisines, the curds are wrapped in cloth, placed under a heavy weight such as a stone slab for two to three hours, and then cut into cubes for use in curries. Pressing for a shorter time (approximately 20 minutes) results in a softer, fluffier cheese.
In Bengali and other east Indian cuisines, the curds are beaten or kneaded by hand into a dough-like consistency, resulting in chhena (also known as sana or chhana). In these regions, chhena is distinguished from paneer (called ponir), a salty semi-hard cheese with a sharper flavor and high salt content. Hard ponir is typically eaten in slices at teatime with biscuits or various types of bread, or deep-fried in a light batter.
In the area surrounding the Gujarati city of Surat, Surti Paneer is made by draining the curds and ripening them in whey for 12 to 36 hours.
Paneer is the most common type of cheese used in traditional Indian and Pakistani cuisines. The use of paneer is more common in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is sometimes wrapped in dough and deep-fried or served with either spinach (palak paneer) or peas (mattar paneer).
The well-known rasgulla features plain chhana beaten by hand and shaped into balls which are boiled in syrup. The sana / chhana / chhena used in such cases is manufactured by a slightly different procedure from paneer; it is drained but not pressed, so that some moisture is retained, which makes for a soft, malleable consistency. It may, however, be pressed slightly into small cubes and curried to form a dalna in Maithili, Oriya and Bengali cuisines.
- 3 cups regular milk
- 1 cup Half and half milk
- Couple of tbsp. Vinegar
- In a heavy bottomed pan(be sure to use deep pan), pour the milk, turning the heat to high. Stir the milk constantly to ensure milk does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- When the milk begins to boil, add vinegar.
- You will notice that the milk begins to curdle. Once the entire milk curdles (this happens when you see the whey-water looks greenish) strain the chenna/cheese mixture by keeping a cheese cloth or sefa on a strainer.
- Bring paneer into the center to squeeze out excess water.
- Place the cheese cloth bundle in flat surface with possibly holes to drain out moisture and place another flat plate/cookie sheet or anything that works for you on top of the cheese cloth. Now place something heavy like a pile of books or a brick on the cookie sheet in a way that the weight is directly on the paneer cloth. This will press down the paneer.
- Let it sit under the weight for 2 to 3 hours.
- Remove the paneer from the cloth. Now your paneer is ready.
- Cut the paneer into desired shape.
- Now if you want your paneer just like storebought, read following instruction to make your paneer smooth just like cheese
- Once all the water is draned, grind the paneer into the grinder and grind slowly till you get smooth texture.
- When paneer is smooth, take any square plastic box and place all the grended paneer into the box and put into the freezer for half an hour.
- Take out box and cut into cubes, do not try to take out yet. Put it back into the freezer and after 45-60min., take out all the paneer from the box.
- Store it in the refrigerator in an air tight container. A food grade container can make it stay for a week.
- If not using in about 2-3 days then fry paneer little bit only and then freeze it.
- •A softer version of this cheese can be substituted in some but not all recipes calling for farmer's cheese or ricotta.
- •After frying paneer, throw fried paneer into the warm water. This process makes paneer more softer and take off excessive oil.
- •You may end up adding more than 15 ml (1 Tbsp) of the acid before the curds separate from the whey.
- •The more fat content in the milk, the better output. Paneer made from a high fat content milk will be tastier.
- •If cheese cloth is not available, use a "babywindeln" instead.
- •Paneer maker can be used to get the paneer cubes.
- •Do not use old or spoiled milk to prepare the paneer.
- •Zero fat or skim milk does not work out well with this method.
- •Keep stirring the milk while it's becoming hot to prevent it from getting burnt at the bottom.