August 13, 2010

How to Make Paneer / Indian Cottage Cheese at Home - Step by Step

I know everyone and their mother and their dogs (some bloggers have really smart dogs) have blogged about how to make paneer at home but to my defense, I still get questions and emails asking how I do it.

how to make paneer-homemade paneer

I started making paneer at home more frequently when Mustafa Centre stopped stocking Amul Paneer Cubes. Although they were practically tasteless compared to homemade paneer, I always have a small bag in the freezer just in case the urgent need to make paneer butter masala kicks in. When I make fresh paneer at home, I usually end up using it within the next day or two so the store-bought ones were good for.. well, storing!
UPDATE: Since my friend Anu told me that using curd or buttermilk to split the milk works every time as opposed to lime juice or vinegar which only works sometimes for her, I have started doing the same. Use 1/2 cup curd or buttermilk to work with 1 litre milk and you are golden. Try it!
Ok let's get started. Pour 1 litre full cream milk into a pan. Its very important that you use full cream milk for making paneer at home.

How To Make Paneer at Home

I always use lemon to curdle the milk and you need about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice. You can also use white vinegar instead of lemon. (UPDATE: Use buttermilk or curd people, that's the way to go. Refer updated note highlighted above)

How To Make Paneer at Home

Bring the milk to a rolling boil and add the lemon juice or vinegar. Simmer for another 2-3 mins until the milk has completely curdled. Keep stirring.

Remove from fire and transfer to a double layered cheesecloth (or use an Indian cotton towel - thorthu / thundu), that's placed over a colander which is in turn placed over a bowl large enough to collect all the whey.

How To Make Paneer at Home

Once the whey has drained off completely..

How To Make Paneer at Home

Wrap the ends of the cheesecloth over the paneer.

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You need to place some weights over this to make a firm block of paneer. I place a plate over it so that the block gets uniformly pressed down.

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Then on goes my stone mortar..

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.. topped off with my granite chapati stone. (You can use bags of beans, cookbooks, or anything that's heavy and can be balanced over the pressed paneer)

How To Make Paneer at Home

Leave the weights on for about 2-3 hours and voila! You are left with fresh fresh paneer!

How To Make Paneer at Home

Refrigerate for an hour before cutting into blocks.

How To Make Paneer at Home

What about the whey you ask? Well, you can use it to cook rice or any vegetables. Also add it to roti dough for super soft rotis. Another great way to use it up is to use it instead of lemon juice or vinegar to curdle milk next time you make paneer. Store it in the fridge for up to a week.

How To Make Paneer at Home

The homemade paneer can be frozen for upto a month before use.