How to make Paneer Cheese – a fresh, Indian Cheese that can be made at home to use in Indian curry, masala, wraps and stews! An easy, step-by-step guide! Can be made in 2 hours with ½ hour hands on time.
We can only be what we give ourselves power to be. ~Native American Saying
For those of you, like me who enjoy tinkering in the kitchen, because it is fun and relaxing- this recipe for homemade paneer cheese is for you. Paneer is one the main staples of India’s mostly vegetarian diet. Soft pillowy cubes of fresh, mild cheese are the perfect accompaniment to the stronger flavors of curries and stews, absorbing these easily. Paneer is readily available at grocery stores, but if you’d like to have a bit of fun, it’s incredibly easy to make at home! From start to finish, it takes about 2 hours, with just a half hour of actual hands-on time. So easy and fast!
To make paneer, all you need is whole milk, vinegar and cheese cloth. That’s it!
In a nutshell, this is how to make Paneer:
- Heat a gallon of whole milk until it simmer. Turn heat off.
- Add vinegar -water, which will separate the curds from the whey. Cool.
- Strain the curds in a cheesecloth, drain for 1 hour, then press into a square with a weighted plate.
- Let it rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Cut into cubes!
Paneer can be eaten fresh or pan-seared ( like you see above.)
Start with the best quality milk you can get. Organic, whole milk. Raw milk would work great too. I’ve heard half and half works too, but have not personally tried this. Goat’s milk will work as well, as long as it is whole. (Do not use UHT Milk, or milk that has gone through ultra-high temperature processing, sometimes called “ultra-pasteurization”. )
Skim or low-fat milk will not give you enough curds, so be sure to use whole milk.
A gallon of milk yields 24 ounces of Paneer which is about 4 cups cubed, which is about an 8 x 8 inch square, about an inch thick.
This is a bigger batch and if you want to start off smaller, feel free to half the recipe.
Heat the milk in a large non-stick pot, or dutch oven, over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. This will take 20 minutes. Turn heat off and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Skim the foam off the top.
Add vinegar water, a little at a time, stirring very very gently, until the cheese curds start separating from the whey. Stirring slowly helps keep the curds in tact.
The paneer will begin to curdle into big lumps (which is good!). The bigger the lumps, the creamier the paneer. Be patient here.
As it cools, the curds will continue separating. You can do other things while its cooling.
Let the mixture cool completely before straining.
The milk will gradually go from cloudy, to clear-ish, as it cools, and the whey will have a slightly greenish hue.
Place two layers of cheese cloth over a colander, and over a bowl if you want to save the whey.
When completely cooled, gently pour and strain.
Let the curds drain, and gently rinse with luke warm water (to remove vinegar)
Gather the ends of the cheese cloth together, resisisting the temptation to squeeze the water out – and let it drain naturally for one hour, hanging.
Tie the ends of the cheese cloth it to a large wood spoon over a bowl.
Or tie to your kitchen faucet like in India.
Once it has drained, place the paneer on a thin kitchen towel.
Begin lightly massaging the paneer onto the towel with the base of your palm, pressing gently and smearing it upwards and away from you. This removes more water while creating a creamy texture.
A lot of recipes skip this step, but I’ve found that doing this really makes the paneer creamy vs. grainy.
So press and smear. Gently.
Gently break up the curds by pressing up and into the cloth with the heel of your palm. At this point you could add salt – a generous pinch of sea salt is perfect.
Form a ball with the paneer in the center of the cloth and fold the cloth into a 8 x 8 inch square.
If your cloth is very wet, grab a fresh one.
Place a plate or platter over top of the ball and press down all around until the paneer fills out to all the edges of the cloth and you have a nice square shape. Weight the plate down and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Unwrap it and cut it into squares.
Add the fresh paneer to Indian curries and stews or give it a gentle searing, like you see here.
If you pan-sear the paneer, season the oil in the pan with a generous pinch of salt and pepper first.
Making homemade paneer is a fun little project to make with your kids or family that is surprisingly fun, easy and uncomplicated!
Use the homemade paneer, like you would tofu! In bowls, curries, folded into wraps, even tossed into salads! So yummy! I’m excited for you to try this!Print
How to Make Paneer
How to make Paneer Cheese – a fresh Indian Cheese that can be made at home to use in Indian curry, masala, wraps and stews! Easy, step by step recipe.
- Prep Time: 100 mins
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours
- Yield: 24 ounces 1x
- Category: vegetarian, how to,
- Method: stove top
- Cuisine: Indian
- 1 gallon organic whole milk- (do not use skim milk, 2%, or ultra-pasteurized milk)
- 6 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- generous pinch sea salt
Heat milk in a large nonstick pot (or dutch oven) over medium heat, until it just begins to simmer, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you feel a layer forming at the bottom don’t disrupt it, or try to mix it in. Turn the heat down, and stir without scraping it up.
Mix 6 tablespoons vinegar with 2 cups water and set aside.
Once the milk comes to a simmer, where you see active bubbles, and just about to boil, turn heat off and let stand 10 minutes.
Skim the froth, or skin, and discard.
Add the vinegar water, a little at a time, stirring very very slowly and gently, until curds start separating. You want nice big curds, so excess stirring, or vigorous stirring will break them apart and make them smaller. Let this cool to room temperature before straining, giving only an occasional stir. As it cools the whey will change from cloudy to clear with a slightly greenish hue. This is perfect. ( If for some reason, the curds and whey are not separating, stir in more vinegar, a teaspoon at a time till you see separation.)
Place a large double layer of cheese cloth ( roughly 2 feet by 2 feet) over a large colander. You could place the colander over a large bowl to save the whey for other uses, if you like. Or just drain into the sink.
Once the curds and whey have cooled, and whey is clear-ish, pour carefully, slowly into the colander. Let it sit and drain until most of the whey has drained. Rinse gently with a little luke warm tap water to remove the vinegar. Do not squeeze any water out, this will result in hard paneer. Just let it drain naturally. Gather up the four corners of the cheese cloth and tie them together, either hanging from a wood spoon positioned over a deep bowl – or hang on the kitchen faucet to drain in the sink. See photos above. Drain for one hour.
Gently unwrap paneer and place it on a thin tea towel or kitchen towel. With the heal of your palm massage it away from you, gently pressing down into the towel, breaking up the curds while allowing the towel to absorb more water. Sprinkle with salt if you like and massage it in. Gather up the paneer into a ball, in the center of the towel. Fold the towel over the paneer into a neat square, roughly 8 x 8 inches.
Place a plate (with a smooth bottom) over the paneer and press it down firmly and evenly until paneer fills out the square. Add a little weight to the top of the plate and place this in the fridge, on top of another towel to catch any remaining liquid. After 15 minutes, paneer is ready.
Carefully unwrap and cut with a sharp knife.
To pan-sear paneer, heat oil in a non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat, seasoning the oil with salt and pepper. Place the paneer carefully in the oil and let it form a golden crust. If it is sticking ( in cast iron), it means it is not quite ready to flip over. As the golden crust forms, it will release itself from the pan. Key is moderate heat.
Enjoy! Use as you would pan-seared tofu!
Feel free to half the recipe, especially if it is your first time making this.
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