Okay this is long due. This post is in my drafts for more than two years. I was trying a lot of ways all this time but something wasn’t right with the texture & taste of paneer I made at home.As simple as it sounds but just splitting the milk,tying up & weighing it down was not as easy as it looked. Sometimes the curds didn’t pull together or the taste was off, on few days I was left with dryish, crumbly blob.
Once you get a hang of it, making paneer could be the easiest thing you do in your kitchen. The steps are simple and there are just a few things you need to keep in mind and viola you are a cheese maker! I am sharing a recipe which I have developed to suit our tastes.Its moist, creamy and mildly chewy.The cubes hold up their shape when added to curries or grilled on high heat.
Paneer/Panir is something you cannot imagine north indian cuisine without.From curries to flatbreads to desserts, there is hardly any course where paneer is not served if you sit down for meals.Back in India, freshest paneer is easily available at every nook and corner of the neighborhood having unmatched quality.This mild tasting cheese could be one few of the best indian things you can put into your mouth. It is a popular substitute for vegetarians in India and if you ask me,sometimes I choose paneer dishes over chicken or meat.
There are many ways of splitting the milk which differ from recipe to recipe. I personally don’t like to use lemon juice because no matter how much I wash the curds, I still taste the citrus note. If you are in India, sour indian style curds (khatta dahi) works great but I was not able to find it here & yogurt is not as good a substitute. I have known few recipes using buttermilk but again indian mattha/chaas is made from dahi so it was not a choice for me.
This recipe can be halved,doubled or tripled. Please use this recipe as a basic guideline to make paneer. The timings mentioned in the recipe will differ on stove settings and milk/cream quality.
Ingredients (Makes about 8oz block of paneer)
Other things that you will need :-
Line the strainer with double layer of cheesecloth/muslin. Set it over the bowl to catch the whey such that there is gap between the bottom of strainer and the bowl. Keep rubber bands or string nearby. I recommend setting this up near your sink so that once you have strained the curds you can hang the cheesecloth on the tap.
Add milk to the pot. Let the milk warm up on medium heat for about 5-6 minutes. Once the milk is warm, add the heavy cream to the pot and bring the whole mixture to a boil. This will take 12-15 minutes on medium heat, you will need to intermittently stir the mixture so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Keep a close eye because the milk can boil very quickly.
Once the milk has boiled, put off the heat. Wait for 3-5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the boiled milk. Immediately you will see that the milk starts to coagulate and a greenish liquid separating (this is whey). This green liquid will be clear, if it’s still whitish, you might need to add more vinegar. Add vinegar 1 tbsp at a time till you see clear green liquid.
Pour the curdled milk over the strainer lined with cheesecloth. The whey will collect in the bowl. Tie up the ends of the cheesecloth and fasten with the help of rubber band/string. Hang this for maximum 5-7 minutes so that the liquid drains away. Stop as soon as the water stops dripping in a continuous string. At this point use you hands to squeeze the cheesecloth bundle a little bit.Don’t apply too much pressure.
Place the cheesecloth on a plate and keep another plate on top of it to flatten down to a block. Next keep a heavy weight on top of it. I fill up my 3 quart stainless tea kettle with water and use it to weigh down. You could use tomato/bean cans. Keep the curds weighed down for at least 30-45 minutes at room temperature. Drain the liquid that has collected in the plate and unwrap the cheesecloth to take out the block.
Carefully, keep he paneer block in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before cutting through,though I find that it much better if I wait up to 36 hours to cut a piece.
Store paneer refrigerated for 4-5 days. It could be frozen for up to 2 weeks.
Few other tips & suggestions-
Happy Cheese making & Thanks for stopping by!