Paneer(cottage cheese) is the most widely used fresh cheese in Indian recipes. It is very versatile and is used in making tikka, curry, salad, and sweets. Grated paneer can be sprinkled on the dosa, pizza, pasta, or rice.
Paneer is a fresh cheese made by curdling heated milk with any acids such as lemon juice, vinegar, citric acid or curd. This separates thick curd from the whey. The curdled mixture or the thick curd is then strained in a muslin or cheese or soft cloth and the excess water is pressed out. The cloth with the paneer is hung for half hour to remove the excess water. This is the basic way to prepare paneer.
Paneer can be made at home very quickly almost in 30 minutes. Once you start making it at home, you will prefer to make it regularly at home. It is clean, hygienic and made with care.
I am sharing with you recipe for paneer made using lemon juice. Earlier I have shared the recipe for making homemade paneer using curd.
Few points to take care:
Use full cream milk. (Do not use fat-free milk if you want paneer to cut into pieces if you want to crumble paneer you can go for low-fat milk)
While adding lemon juice, curd, vinegar or any acidic agent to the boiling milk, always lower the heat and then add curd or any acidic agents.
Constantly stir the milk after adding the acidic agents or curd so that it does not stick to the bottom.
After the milk is curdled-it will take another 5-7 minutes for it to separate from the whey (greenish water). Immediately strain the curdled mixture to remove excess water. If you keep the curdled mixture more on heat, the paneer set would become chewy.
The paneer would be set in 30 minutes. If you want paneer to set in a block then wrap the curdled mixture in the cloth and shape the mixture to a rectangle and place a heavy weight over it for a couple of hours. It will set in a nice block. You can cut into pieces and use to make tikkas or use in curries.
To retain the freshness, the paneer block is immersed in a bowl of fresh water. This will also help in removing excess sourness from paneer and also make it soft. The paneer kept in water can be refrigerated for 3-4 days, changing the water every 8 hours.
I started making paneer at home after my son was born. I was not satisfied with the cleanliness and the hygienic conditions of the dairy selling the milk products. I do not want Aarav to eat those. Paneer is very healthy and I prefer eating it weekly once or twice. So then I started making it at home.
So friends do try making paneer at home and you will never go to shops to buy it!
Homemade Paneer Using Lemon (Cottage Cheese)
- Put milk to boil in thick bottom pan stirring continuously.
- When it starts boiling, lower the heat and add lemon juice to it.
- Mix it till the milk curdles and greenish water(whey) is separated.
- Put a muslin cloth or soft cloth in a strainer and strain the curdled milk through it.
- The greenish water will be collected in the bowl. It is known as "whey". It is very healthy and nutritious. Utilise it to make buttermilk, kneading dough, making soup, dal or kadhi, making khandvi.
- Now pour water over the curdled curd mixture to remove the sourness of lemon.
- Add salt and mix well. Bring the cloth together and squeeze out excess water.
- Shape it into a square or circle and wrap in the same soft cloth. Place it on a flat plate
- Place a heavy flat plate or tava or cast iron pan with a heavy weight over it on the wrapped cloth. Keep it for couple of hours to set.
- After couple of hours unwrap the cloth. The paneer is set well into a block.
- Cut into desired shape as required. Immerse the paneer block in a bowl of fresh water and refrigerate to store, Keep changing water after every 8 hours to retain the freshness. The paneer can stay fresh for 3-4 days.
- The paneer is ready for use.