Paneer, a semisolid, cubed form of cottage cheese, is favored in north and east India. "Paneer" -- literally "cheese" in Hindi -- readily takes on the flavor of the spices in which it cooks. Paneer adds a rich and creamy flavor to Indian desserts, such as Sandesh, rasgulla, and rasmalai. It is also used in curries like mutter paneer and palak paneer, Indian kababs and parathas, a pan-fried Indian flatbread.
While you can find cottage cheese in curd form in most supermarkets, you can usually only buy cubed or block varieties in Indian food stores. Instead, make paneer at home in half an hour with the following recipe. Once you've made paneer, freeze it to use later.
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon citric acid (or lime juice or lemon juice)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- Boil the milk in a medium-sized pot.
- As the milk boils, dissolve the citric acid/lime juice/ lemon juice in 1/2 cup of warm water.
- When the milk comes to a boil, pour the acid-water/lemon or lime juice-water mix into it.
- Reduce the heat and stir continuously until the milk is completely curdled.
- Remove the mixture from the heat when the separation of the curds and whey is complete.
- Strain the mixture through a clean muslin cloth.
- Hold it under running water for a minute and then press out the excess water.
- Hang the muslin for 15 to 20 minutes so that all of the whey is drained.
- To make the paneer into a block, tie the muslin and place it under something heavy.
- Cut the paneer into cubes.
- Use the paneer cubes immediately or freeze them for later.
- Use skim or low-fat milk for a healthier version of paneer.
- Don't discard the whey. Use it to make dough for chapatis or parathas, which will turn out softer than if you made the dough with water.
- Mix the whey with Bengal Gram Flour and make a thick paste. Use this paste as a body lotion for softer skin.