How to make paneer – a step by step recipe
Finally, the paneer recipe! I promised to tell you how to make paneer a long time ago, but got sidetracked majorly by rhubarb (exhibits A and B, and a Martha Stewart giveaway amongst other things. But I’ve been meaning to share it for years because paneer is one of my favourite Indian ingredients. I honestly don’t know what has taken me so long. Actually, I do know. It’s the step-by-step photos. They’re not my jam. But I really wanted them for this, to show you just how ridiculously easy it is.
Paneer is milky, chewy, and delicious in curries (like Saag Paneer, Butter Paneer and Malai Kofta, for example). The recipe has 3 ingredients, calls for about 10 minutes of hands-on time, and no special skills or equipment required. And store-bought paneer is often laden with icky additives, if you need an extra motivator.
So to start, all you do is bring milk to a boil and stir in lemon juice. The curds will separate.
You strain the curds in cheesecloth (or a clean fairly open-weave dishtowel, as pictured) to get rid of most of the moisture. Add a bit of salt. (You did it! It’s already cheese!)
Then you place it on a paper towel-lined plate and weight it down with a skillet and some cans of tomatoes (or whatever you have on hand – a pot full of water, your toddler, a small dog; heavy-ish is the only requisite quality).
Then you chop chop chop into bite-sized pieces and enjoy in your favourite curries (see above links for a few of mine).
So easy, but nobody has to know that (except for those with whom you share the recipe – and please do).
But the best part (other than pinching pieces of soft, buttery paneer with warm, chewy naan) is you get the satisfaction of casually slipping “last night, when I was making cheese” into your conversations. It just feels good.
- 3 litres 12 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- good pinch of salt to taste
- Heat milk over medium heat in a large stockpot until it comes to a boil. Watch closely as soon as it starts to steam, as it will froth and overflow quickly after it boils. Immediately remove from heat and add lemon juice. Stir for about 30 seconds, as the milk starts to curdle (if it doesn't, add another tablespoon of lemon juice - but it almost always does). Let stand 10 minutes.
- Pour into a cheesecloth- or tea-towel-lined colander. When most of the liquid has drained, rinse a bit with cold water (to get rid of the lemon flavour).
- Pick up corners of the cloth and twist into a ball, squeezing as much moisture as possible from the paneer. Open and stir in a pinch of salt; taste, and add more if desired. Wrap it up again, flatten it out into a rough rectangle and place on paper towel-topped plate with the knot to the side (this ensures a nice, flat brick of paneer). Put a heavy skillet on top, then a couple of large cans. Allow paneer to drain like this for 20 minutes, then cut and use as desired.