We all love Paneer.It is an ingredient, so versatile that it lends itself almost into anything..be it a dessert like Rasgulla or Sandesh or an appetizer like Paneer pakora or rolls,or main courses like Paneer Makhani or Shahi Paneer or even salads.Its Paneer all the way.We sometimes get frustrated over the rising prices and refuse to buy it.But why cannot we make it at home?Its a good idea to give yourself a treat sometimes. Paneer requires only 3 ingredients:
2.A curdling agent – Lemon Juice/Vinegar
3.Lots of water
Lets discuss them in detail.
You can make Paneer from full-cream milk to give what is known as Malai Paneer,or you can use low-fat skim milk and make a low fat version which is just as tasty.I used full-fat milk.
By this we mean an ingredient which really curdles(makes the milk separate into water and curds which are drained to extract the cheese.I prefer using Lemon Juice as Vinegar sometimes makes the milk too bitter.
Water is important to eliminate all bitterness from the curds and then to ensure they are completely washed and before tying up!!
Another important tip – Boil the milk in a heavy bottom pan or best an open pressure cooker.This enables a smooth cooking of the milk and it does not spill over even when made in large quantities!
1 liter milk
Juice of 2 lemons/1/4 cup white vinegar
Pour the milk in an open pressure cooker.Keep on low heat.
In the meantime line a vegetable strainer or sieve with a thin kitchen cloth or cheesecloth.Put it into the kitchen sink or washbasin.
Let the milk come to a ROLLING boil.Remember be patient while making paneer and you will get the best results.Its important for the milk to be heated up to a level that the curdling agent could work most efficiently! Add the lemon juice or vinegar.Continue to boil in the same consistency.
The milk comes to a rolling boil..
You will see the curds form slowly. This needs to boil till you get water and curds.The milk needs to “convert” into curds and the “water” or whey has to remain as a liquid.Now carefully pour this on the sieve covered cloth and let the whey drain away.I always collect the whey as it is very nutritious and can be used to knead the dough for rotis and paranthas.
Keep the sieve in the sink for further drainage of the whey.Pass the curds through clean running water to wash off the bitterness of the lemon if any left.Keep aside for 10 minutes for all the water to drain.
Now tie the opposite ends of the cloth to make a knot.Then tie the remaining 2 ends on the tap over the sink or over any stand.
If you cannot find a place to tie then keep it under a heavy pan or marble slab to drain away the water.After approximately 4-5 hours untie the cloth or remove the slab whichever is applicable.
The paneer should have set into a slightly firm block.Cut it into cubes or any shape you want or use as it is – fresh and homemade!