Back in March, I posted about our adventures in making Saag Gosht and knew that we had to post a vegetarian option. My first introduction to paneer was through eating saag, specifically palak paneer, at a friend’s house. I couldn’t believe how quick my friend’s mother made cheese in the kitchen. One moment she just had a pitcher of milk, and a couple hours of schoolwork later, we were rewarded with a delicious meal. I didn’t understand it then, so I continued to believe that paneer would be something I couldn’t make at home.
When we were planning our saag recipe, I insisted we try and figure out the cheese recipe too. It’s so simple to make! I’m happy to share ours with you, and excited that we have a quick cheese we can make to add to our future dishes.
Recipe for Paneer – Fresh Cheese for Gravies and Curries
- 200-250g of Paneer
- 2 liters (about 2 quarts, plus ½-cup) Whole Milk
- 45g (3T) Lemon Juice or Distilled White Vinegar
- Cold Water or Ice Cubes
- Pinch of Kosher Salt
- In a saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer, stirring the pot occasionally to prevent scalding.
- Once bubbling, turn off the flame and immediately pour the lemon juice or vinegar and mix.
- When the curds begin to form, add some cold water or a couple of ice cubes to stop the cooking.
- Let the pot sit for 5-10 minutes, then strain through a fine mesh cheesecloth draped over a sieve. Discard the whey, or save it for future use.
- Rinse the curds with cold water and squeeze. Try and remove as much water out as possible.
- Add the salt and toss the curds well.
- Gather all of the curds to the center of the cheesecloth, fold the sides in to contain the curds, then press the paneer between two plates.
- Place a heavy object on top of the plates for about an hour.
- Take out the paneer and cut into cubes.
- Add the paneer to curries, gravies, salads, or any other dishes that might need a bit of fresh cheese.
- Make sure to bring the pot of milk to a simmer and not a strong boil, as this can create an end texture that is crumbly.
- The cold water/ice cubes also aid in giving you a better texture, one that is smooth and less crumbly. Don't continue to boil the milk after the acid has been added.
- The whey can be used to add flavor to soups and stews, and extra protein in smoothies.
- I fold the cheesecloth closed versus making a knot. The knot makes the cheese uneven and bumpy.
- This isn't a hard-and-fast rule, but I follow a ratio of roughly a teaspoon of acid (lemon juice or vinegar) per 1 cup of milk.
- Whole milk will give you the curds you need to make paneer. Non-fat milk will give you curds that are subpar, or no curds at all. Also, try and source milk that isn't ultra pasteurized, as this pasteurization process inhibits the milk from curdling well.
- Remember to rinse the curds and squeeze out the water before pressing between plates. This rinses the acid out.
- It's best to rest the paneer for at least an hour before use, allowing the curds to solidify into a block.
- If you have any leftover cheese, place into a container and refrigerate. Use within a few days.
- Add the cheese into your gravy after it has been heated; any extra cooking can change the mouthfeel of the paneer. Let the gravy or curry rest a few minutes after adding the paneer. The heat from the dish should warm the cheese through.
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