Paneer is a non-melting cheese popular in Indian cuisine. The cheese is made from fresh whole milk that is curdled with an acidic food. Lemon, vinegar, or yogurt are all used to curdle the milk. The cheese curds are then pressed to remove the extra moisture and the cheese is ready to use in as little as 2-3 hours.
I love Indian cuisine. Farmer Fred is not a fan of Indian cuisine. However, he does like Paneer. I think it’s the spices I use in Indian dishes that he doesn’t like. He doesn’t like the smell of cardamom and cumin seeds sizzling in ghee or the smell of garam masala in an Indian curry. I love it all but don’t make the curries very often. However, we both like the Paneer cut into small cubes and fried in a bit of garlic butter. I add it to a salad or add it to some roasted vegetables. Hold the curry, please, says Fred.
What Do I Need for Paneer?
There aren’t very many ingredients in Paneer.
- Fresh milk, acidic food to curdle the milk.
- Cheesecloth or nut milk bag to strain the curds.
- A heavy-weight to press the extra moisture out of the cheese.
How Do I Make The Paneer?
Here is my SIS (simple is smart) way to make Paneer:
Add the fresh whole milk to a heavy bottom kettle. You want to use a heavy bottom kettle to keep the milk from scorching while you heat it. Heat on medium until the milk comes to a gentle boil. Stir frequently while heating to prevent scorching.
Once the milk is boiling, add the acidic food. I use lemon juice. If you use either vinegar or lemon juice, you need to rinse the curds well to remove any taste or smell of the vinegar. As soon as you add the acid, remove the pan from the burner and stir. The milk will curdle, and the liquid part (whey) will turn clear, Continue stirring gently until all the milk is curdled.
TROUBLESHOOTING: If the milk doesn’t curdle, put the pan back on the heat and add another 1-2 tablespoons of the acid. Stir until the curds form. Strain immediately as continuing to cook will give you tough cheese.
Strain the curds and whey mixture in a strainer lined with a nut milk bag or cheesecloth. Run cold water over the curds to stop the cooking process. If you used vinegar or lemon juice, rinse until all the lemon or vinegar flavor is gone,
Squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Then place the cheese (still wrapped in the cheesecloth or nut milk bag on a large plate and put some heavy weight on top. Press for three to four hours. Cut into squares and enjoy all of your favorite Indian cuisines. If you add the cheese to curry, add the cheese just before serving, cover the curry with a lid and let the curry heat up the cheese cubes.
The cheese will keep for two to three weeks in the fridge or several months frozen. Add your paneer to my Pumpkin and Paneer Samosas. For another delicious appetizer make my Southwest Egg Rolls.
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- fine mesh strainer or colander
- nut milk bag
- heavy object for pressing the cheese
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- 2 quarts whole (full fat) fresh milk (2 liters)
- 3 tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice (may substitute 1/3 cup yogurt)
- In a large heavy-bottom kettle, cook the milk over medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil. Stir constantly to prevent scorching.
- Add the (acid) lemon juice, vinegar, or yogurt when the ilk has reached a gentle boil.
- Stir in and remove the milk from the heat. The milk should begin to curdle immediately. Continue stirring gently until all the milk has curdled; this takes about 2 minutes. The liquid part (whey) should be clear when the milk has fully curdled. TROUBLESHOOTING (see below)
- Pour the mixture into a fine mesh colander. If you don't have a fine mesh colander, line the colander with a piece of cheesecloth. This keeps the curds from washing through the holes.
- Rinse the curds with cold water to stop the cooking process, and rinse away the vinegar or lemon juice. Rinse well.
- Place the curds in a nut milk bag and wring most of the moisture out of the curds.
- Twist the nut milk bag shut and place the cheese on a large plate. Place another plate on top and a heavy weight on top of the second plate.
- Press the cheese for 3-4 hours or longer in the refrigerator.
- The cheese is now ready to use in all of your favorite Indian recipes. Cut the cheese into cubes when you are ready to use it.
- Store the cheese for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Avoid overcooking the paneer once you add it to the curry sauce. Add the paneer at the very end and remove the curry from the burner, cover and let the curry sit to allow the paneer to absorb the flavors.