Make your own paneer cheese - it's really easy!
You just need two ingredients (milk and lemon juice), it only needs to go into the fridge overnight and no special equipment necessary!
So without further ado, here's how!
- 2.5 litres / 4 pints whole milk
- 75ml lemon juice
Put the milk into a large saucepan, and bring to a rolling boil (remember, milk foams up and over the top of the pan when it boils, so DON’T leave it unattended, especially when cooking on gas, as it will put out the flame). Remove from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice. Put it back onto the heat for a minute or so, until the curds and whey separate (when it starts to look like lumps in a watery liquid) then remove from the heat again.
Line a colander (or large sieve) with a double thickness of clean muslin cloth (or if you don’t have this to hand, a sheet of kitchen towel will do) and pour the mixture through it, draining off all of the whey.
(If you wish to add a flavouring to the paneer, i.e. garlic, or garlic and coriander etc., then add it at this point and gently mix through and salt if desired).
Gently squeeze all the liquid from the curds, and leave to drain.
Transfer to a dish or tin (I like to line mine with cling-film, for easy removal - if you're using a metal container, you will need to line it), flatten, and weight it down. (I cover with cling-film, wrap a piece of thick cardboard cut to size in foil and place on the top, then put a few tin cans on it to weight it down). Put into the fridge once cooled and leave overnight (with the weights still on).
The next day, carefully remove from the container (easiest to put a board on top of it, and turn upside down), then cut into cubes (or crumble, depending on the recipe) and use as required – generally it will require frying for most recipes – you need to use a really good non-stick frying pan and a generous amount of oil, or the paneer may stick to the bottom of the pan – start off with just a few cubes as a test batch, and turn them very gently, then set aside on kitchen towel to drain before adding them to the dish (unless instructed otherwise). Homemade paneer cheese does tend to be more delicate than the stuff you buy in packets, so treat it with care (however the upside of this is that I think it has a much nicer taste and texture!).
Fantastic in dishes like Muttar Paneer – a dish with peas and paneer cooked in spices, which also freezes well, and also Saag Paneer - spinach and paneer curry (click on highlighted text for my recipes).