Does the name “paneer” ring a bell? If you like to experiment in the kitchen and you know about different cuisines around the world, it probably does. But if not… we’ll tell you today.
What Is Paneer?
Paneer is the name of a fresh, white, salt-free cheese – which doesn’t require curing or culturing – and is very easy to make at home. It is the most famous cheese in India – and one of the most important foods in South Asian countries-, as it is used in many recipes and preparations.
Paneer has a very mild milky flavor and a dense, crumbly texture that helps counterbalance any strong peppery flavors used in many classic Indian dishes, such as curries. Plus, because it doesn’t melt like other cheeses, the pieces can be stirred into soups and remain intact.
Sounds delightful isn’t it? Want to try make this little delicacy that can be used in so many ways? You will be happy to know that you can prepare paneer in a very simple way without leaving your home, with only two ingredients that you will have in your refrigerator: a liter of whole milk and a lemon. Read on to know how you can make it!
- Start by bringing your liter of whole milk to a boil. We recommend you use a heavy-bottomed saucepan so that the milk does not burn.
- Then, reduce the heat and slowly squeeze the lemon juice into the milk while stirring all the time with a spoon. This way, the cheese should start curdling right away.
- Remove the milk from the heat and let it sit for about ten minutes to give the acid juice time to completely separate the curds and whey.
- Line a strainer with a piece of fine kitchen gauze and strain the curds. Run the strainer with the gauze and the resulting cheese under the tap. This, will remove any flavor residue from the lemon juice.
- Collect the gauze, close it and drain as much water as you can.
- Finally, make a ball with the cheese and place it on a non-porous board or table. Put some weight on it (for example a plate or a jar of water) and, let it press for two hours. It should then be ready – and you will be able to have a fresh cheese to serve and share. You can add it to salads, soups, curries or even rice dishes… the choice is endless.
To keep the paneer soft and fluffy, it is best that you cover it with water or buttermilk and store it in the fridge. To do this, you need to completely immerse the cheese in water to keep it moist and fresh. And, if you want to expand its shelf life, ideally we recommend you change the water every other day.
Another idea is to store the cheese into the whey that you strained from the cheese. For this, you will not have to change the water that often and the cheese will be kept very well and should taste and smell fresh even after a week.
How Long Will It Last?
When kept in the refrigerator, covered with whey, the paneer should last for at least 7 to 10 days. If kept in water that you change every two days, the cheese will stay fresh for a little over one week.
But, as soon as it starts to smell or taste sour, it is probably best that you throw it away and make a new one.
Whey is a good source of protein, easy to absorb and digest. Leftover whey can be added to soups, smoothies or used in all sorts of recipes in place of other liquids. It can also be used to activate ferments, like this homemade fermented ketchup. (By fermenting sauces, you can greatly extend their shelf life while adding beneficial microorganisms.
There you go! You can now create your own paneer at home. What is your favorite dish made of paneer? Let us know in the comments below.