Paneer is a milk-based food loved by people all over India. It is made by curdling milk and pressing the chenna obtained after draining its whey with some heavy object to give it the shape and texture of a paneer cake.
Paneer is used in making addictive sweet dishes and delectable savoury dishes. Although we can get paneer easily at grocery stores but nothing can match the purity and taste of homemade paneer. Here is a quick and simple recipe that will help you to make soft and creamy paneer at home. This recipe can be tried by beginners also.
Yield: 500 grams
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes
Full-fat milk: 2 litres
Lemon juice: 5 tbsp
Ice-cold water: 1 litre
Rinse a thick bottom pan with water. Pour milk into it. Give a boil on high flame stirring frequently so that the layer of cream does not form on the top surface. If you are using packet milk then reduce the flame to low after a boil comes on high flame and then add lemon juice into it while stirring continuously until chenna and whey separate. If you are using milk from milkman then turn the flame off after a boil comes on high flame and keep the boiled milk aside for five minutes. After five minutes, add lemon juice into it stirring continuously until chenna and whey separate. When the milk curdles properly, give it a rest of two to three minutes. Add ten ice cubes or one litre of ice-cold water into it to stop further cooking.
Place a soup strainer over a big bowl. Line it with a clean muslin cloth. Pour the curdled milk into it. Chenna will get collected into the muslin cloth and the whey will get collected in the bowl. Hold the edges of the muslin cloth and tie a tight knot pressing the chenna inside. Rinse the chenna still wrapped in the muslin cloth under running water. Press the muslin cloth squeezing the chenna to remove the whey as much as possible.
Hang the tied muslin cloth containing chenna for two hours to allow the remaining whey to drip. After two hours, place the chenna along with the tied muslin cloth in a plate and press it with some heavyweight like some pot having a flat base filled with water or a marble rolling board for two hours. It will give chenna the shape and texture of a paneer cake. Store paneer in an airtight box in refrigerator. You can use it up to three to four days.
Tips to make perfect paneer at home
Use full cream milk from milkman (non-homogenised) to give the best texture and taste.
Rinse the pan in which you want to boil the milk to avoid sticking and burning of the milk at the bottom of the pan.
Keep stirring the milk frequently while boiling it to avoid the layer of cream to form on the top surface.
If you are using homogenised milk, do not add lemon juice while the milk is simmering. Take it off the flame after a boil comes and give it a rest of five minutes before adding lemon juice.
If the milk does not curdle after adding lemon juice and stirring for a few minutes then add some more lemon juice to curdle it.
Though other acids like vinegar and yogurt can also be used to make paneer but lemon juice gives the best result by making it light and perfect in taste and texture.
Overcooking can result in hard and rubbery texture of the paneer. So remove the cooking vessel from the flame and add ice-cold water or ice cubes into it immediately after the milk curdles properly to stop further cooking with the heat present in the foods.
Rinse the chenna still wrapped and tied in the muslin cloth under running water so as to remove the sourness and acidic fragrance of the lemon juice.
Squeeze the chenna in the muslin cloth properly to remove as much whey as possible. Paneer should be soft but stiff like a cake. The whey should not be dripping from it.
To make paneer at home, always use fresh full-fat milk or whole milk. Avoid using milk in tetra packs, skimmed milk or low-fat milk for making paneer as it affects the softness, creaminess and the texture of the outcome. Paneer should be moist but not with the dripping whey. The result with pasteurised and homogenised milk is not same always. It depends on the brand of milk. Some brands of milk are just not suitable to make paneer as the quality of the milk depends on several factors like the feed of the cows, processing method etc. Unpasteurised and non-homogenised fresh milk is the best choice to make paneer at home. You can create your own recipes using this fresh and pure paneer.