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Kay's House of Treats: How to make Home-Made Paneer or Cottage Cheese

Thursday, September 5, 2013

How to make Home-Made Paneer or Cottage Cheese

I tried my hand at making Paneer for the first time when I made Palak Paneer just a few days ago. The inspiration being a local company that delivers organic vegetables & organic fresh milk. I ordered some spinach & the buffalo milk for a trial, and instantly the thing that came to my mind was to make Palak Paneer and also try my hand at making Paneer.

Paneer is a soft fresh Indian cottage cheese which can be easily made using milk & acid together. It's quite popular in Indian cuisine, specifically in North India due to the fact that its a healthy & delicious vegetarian menu. Some of the popular dishes range from Paneer Tikka, Paneer Pakora's (Fritters), Paneer Butter Masala, Palak Paneer & Aalo Matar Paneer (Peas and Potatoes with Paneer). In fact, I think its a much vegetarian alternative to tofu since not only is it easy to make but is delicious eaten on its own as well, or grilled or fried. 

Furthermore, for a bit of extra flavor, flavored paneer can also be made by adding spices or herbs. For example, the first time I made Paneer was basic plain flavored paneer and the next time I added fresh coriander (dhaniya) & some crushed red chilli flakes to give it just a little bit of kick. I was always a big fan of Paneer, but ever since I tried making it at home, there's definitely going to be no store-bought Paneer for me. 
Flavored Chilli & Coriander Paneer
How to Make Home Made Paneer 
Yields approx. 200-225 grams of Paneer from 1 litre milk

Update: Have found a supplier that delivers fresh hormone-free cow's milk to my place; Good quality milk which is convenient & affordable. Details are available at the end of this post.
Ingredients:
1 litre full-cream milk; its necessary to make sure that the milk is fresh - tetra-pak milk  cannot be used
Acid Ingredient - One of the following
2 tsp lemon juice or 2 tsp fresh yoghurt or 2 tsp vinegar
Flavorings (Optional) - Finely chopped fresh coriander, red chilli flakes, black pepper, salt etc
Flavorings - finely chopped garlic with red chilli pepper; finely chopped garlic with chopped green chilli;

Equipment Required: 
Muslin Cloth/Cheesecloth - Muslin cloth is basically 'malmal' in Urdu - so any clean & washed old Dupatta or fabric lying around can be used
Heavy Weight - A Mortar is good for pressing down the Paneer or desi Sil-Batta.

Note: It is not necessary to add flavorings in the Paneer, but since I had taken pictures of this version, this is what I posted. I think it makes the procedure much more simpler when explaining with pictures.

Method:
1 - Pour the 1 litre milk in a medium sized pan and put to boil. If using finely chopped garlic as a flavoring agent, then add now so that the raw garlic can cook for a bit & infuse the milk. 
2 - Line a sieve with muslin cloth/cheese cloth & put it over a big bowl. 
3 - Make sure that you keep standing next to the stove, since the milk can boil over anytime.
4 - Once small bubbles start appearing at the edge of the pot and the milk is about to start boiling, add flavorings if using. For example, in this recipe, I used 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp crushed red chilli flakes, & 1 tsp of fresh corriander leaves.
Light Boil - Added the spices & herbs
Time to add the the acid when the milk starts boiling 
5 - Once the milk starts boiling, turn the heat to low to make sure it doesn't boil over. Add the acid ingredient (lemon juice) and keep stirring. The milk should curdle/separate as soon as the lemon juice has been added. Stir continously until the milk is completely curdled and the water (whey) turns yellow-green in color. In case the milk does not curdle then add a few more drops of lemon juice till the milk has curdled and the water turns yellow-green. 
Curdled Milk with White Curds Separated & Greenish Yellow Liquid Remaining
6 - Remove from heat. 
7 - Pour the mixture into the sieve lined with a muslin cloth.
8 - Drain the whey/yellow liquid. 
9 - Tie up the cheesecloth/muslin in a tight bundle and hang it for about 15-20 minutes so that the moisture is drained. Alternatively, you can just lift it up, close the muslin cloth & squeeze the moisture as much as possible.
Paneer with the whey drained
10 - Then place the cheesecloth on a flat surface and place a weight on it so that the cheese gets flatter and any additional moisture is drained. Keep it for about 30 minutes.
11 - Once the paneer is set, it can be cut into cubes of any shape to be used.
Set Paneer ready to cut into cubes
12 - Keep the Paneer in the refrigerator in an airtight container. 
13 - It will stay fresh for 3-4 days.
14 - Use the Paneer to make Palak Paneer, grill it for sandwiches or use to make gravies.

Sources for Fresh Hormone-Free Cow's Milk
While you can purchase cow's milk from the nearby milk shop, there is a new supplier that I discovered that delivers it to my place and it is also hormone-free. Have been using the milk since end May 2014, and so far its pretty good. Details for getting delivery done given below:

Puro
Pure Cow Milk
For information and free home delivery:
UAN: 11-11-DAIRY (11-11-32479)
Email: customer.care@fd.com.pk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/purodairy

Some Tips:
1 - Use good quality fresh milk. I used Buffalo milk for the first time which yielded a slightly creamier & white colored Paneer.
2 - Either yoghurt, lemon juice or vinegar can be used to curdle the milk. If yoghurt is used, then it should be fresh. Its best to add 1 tsp at a time to see when the milk curdles. If the milk has not curdled, then another tsp needs to be used. The milk will completely curdle when the water turns a light green/yellow color. 
3 - Remove immediately & drain once the milk has curdled otherwise if the milk is overcooked, it will lead to a hard Paneer.
4 - Once you get the hang of making Paneer, keep experimenting with flavors and try them out in different recipes. 
5 - The leftover liquid/whey can be used for making roti's (making the dough) or added to veggies/gravies or used to water plants. 

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1 Comments:

At September 6, 2013 at 2:46 AM , Anonymous Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet said...

This is fabulous, Kiran! It looks SO good! Thanks so much for sharing!

 

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