Paneer is a fresh cheese that requires no rennet or aging time to set. It is a type of ‘cottage cheese’ that is very common in both Southern and Northern Indian cuisine. In the Northern Indian sub continents (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh), paneer is more commonly known as chhena where it is predominately made with buffalo milk and used to make desserts. Chhena has a softer texture than paneer - is not set as hard as some of the moisture is retained.
Paneer is very easy to make by separating the curds from the whey in milk with an acid element such as lemon juice or vinegar. If you don’t have the time to make paneer or really couldn’t be bothered – queso blanco is a good substitute.
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Setting time: 40 minutes
Makes: about 200g
1 litre of FRESH milk
2-3 tsp lime juice or lemon juice, depending on what flavor you prefer
Boil the milk. When the milk starts to boil, add the lime juice and stir constantly. Wait a few minutes and if the milk does not curdle, add a little more juice. (how easy)
When the milk starts to curdle (you will be looking at a thick white mass at the top and a greenish yellow liquid at the bottom), remove immediately from the heat
You can then strain the milk in a fine cheesecloth with a bowl underneath to catch the water. You can use the water to make almond milk, add it to soups or whatever you heart so desires.
Squeeze the whey gently to remove any excess liquid pushing downwards. Careful not to burn yourself as the paneer will very hot!!
Secure the cheesecloth and place on a plate with something heavy resting on top of it while it sets. The setting time should take about 30-40 minutes
You can use the paneer straight away or store in the fridge which will last 2-3 days. Store in a sealed container.
NOTE: If you wish to keep the paneer soft, store in some of the liquid that was drained from the cooked paneer. Once the milk starts to curdle you should take it off the heat unless you wish a harder set cheese.
Throw the paneer into a palak paneer, eat it with freshly grilled peaches or on it's own! The paneer will taste very neutral so feel free to throw in some herbs, salt, pepper or sugar.