Making of Paneer at home (Indian Cottage Cheese) is really an easy process. Paneer is commonly available in Indian subcontinent region and prepared by curdling of heated milk. Let’s learn step-by-step how to make paneer at home.
Once you start making paneer at home, I am sure you will stop buying it from the market. While growing up I have seen my mother always made chena (chana) and paneer at home.
However, when I started my cooking journey as a novice I used buy store bought paneer. I never got the same taste in those packed paneers. Most of the store bought paneers are either hard, chewy or extreme sour taste. This often spoils your hard work when you make curry using those store bought paneers.
When I told this to my mother, she said why don’t you start making it at home. She explained the steps to make paneer at home and over time I have mastered it and now sharing the steps to make paneer at home.
What is Paneer?
Paneer is fresh cheese, commonly known as cottage cheese. Paneer aka Indian cottage cheese is prepared by curdling of milk by adding curdling (souring) agents like lemon juice or vinegar.
Cottage cheese is considered as fresh cheese. Unlike other cheese, it does not undergo an aging process to develop flavor. Hence, you will get very mild flavor in paneer or cottage cheese.
Paneer is a good source of protein especially for the vegetarians. Moreover, paneer also contains essential nutrients including B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and selenium.
What is Chena?
Chena is the crumbled version of the curdled milk. Chena is more moist than paneer. Milk is boiled and curdling agents are added to get chena at home. The process of making chena is similar to the process of making paneer.
However, after adding the curdling agent milk curdles and accumulates together which is then separated from the whey and called chena. Chena is further solidified by putting pressure to make paneer.
Chena is also pronounced as Chana, Chhana or Chhena. Soft, juicy and crumbly chena is used for making varities of Indian sweet dishes like Sondesh, Rosogolla, Kanchagolla and many more.
How to make Paneer from milk?
Making of paneer is an easy process and anyone can prepare paneer at home. Let’s learn how to make paneer at home. You just need two ingredients to prepare paneer at home:
- Full cream milk
- Curdling Agents (Check the below section to know more about it)
For making paneer, you have to boil the milk and the add the curdling agent.
To start this easy process, take milk in a heavy bottom pan and boil it.
Once the milk boil, simmer the flame and add the curdling agent (lemon juice or vinegar or any other curdling agents) until the milk curdles.
After that use a muslin cloth to drain the whey (don’t discard) and collect the curdled milk. You can tie the muslin cloth and hang for some time, as a result extra water drains out. This gives you chena which contains more moisture than paneer.
Finally, keep the collected chena on a plate or tray and you have to keep a heavy weight on it to get firm slab of paneer.
Different curdling agents are used to curdle milk
We need souring agents to make paneer at home. Generally, curdling agents are also known as food acids. Different curdling agents are used to curdle milk.
Lemon juice is commonly used to curdle the milk. I have seen my mother using lemon juice to curdle the milk while preparing chena or paneer.
Vinegar is a good curdling agent. White vinegar is used for curdling the milk. When you do not have lemon in your pantry, then vinegar does the job.
Curd is also used for curdling of milk while making paneer at home. Curd is normally used for curdling of milk when chena or panner is used for making desserts.
Buttermilk is one more curdling agent which can be used to curdle the milk.
Tips and Tricks to make paneer at home
Certain tips and tricks will help you to get the best paneer at home:
- Firstly, use full cream milk (preferably cow milk) to get good yield of paneer.
- Secondly, though toned milk could give low fat paneer but it does not set properly. Hence avoid using toned milk while making paneer. Also, if you are using skimmed milk the yield will be very less. Therefore, you should avoid using skimmed milk for making paneer.
- Furthermore, check the shelf life of the milk before making paneer. Milk should be within its shelf life.
- Finally, when milk is curdled completely avoid heating it further. Remove it from heat and drain it through muslin cloth. Unnecessary heat will result in hard texture of paneer.
What is the difference between Ricotta Cheese and Cottage Cheese?
Many people often ask if ricotta cheese and cottage cheese are same and the answer is no.
Ricotta is a traditional Italian cheese which is prepared from the leftover whey. It has a mild and sweet flavor. Ricotta has grainy texture.
Cottage cheese is fresh, unripened cheese which has a mild flavor. It has lumpier texture. To know more about Ricotta Cheese and Cottage Cheese Read..
Recipes using Paneer or Cottage Cheese
Paneer is used in varieties of recipes starting from starter to dessert. Here are few delicious paneer dishes you can find on my blog:
How to make Paneer
- Muslin cloth or thin cloth
- Heavy Bottom Pan
- A Heavy Weight
- 1 Litre Full Cream Milk
- 2 tablespoon Lemon Juice or Vinegar
- Boil milk in a heavy bottom pan on medium or low flame.
- Stir the milk occasionally, so that the milk does not get burnt at the bottom and also prevents to form cream (malai) on top.
- Once the milk comes to boil, simmer and add the curdling agent (lemon juice or vinegar).
- Stir the milk continuously with a ladle until the milk curdles completely. Keep the flame low add this moment.
- If the milk does not curdle properly, feel free to add more curdling agent (lemon juice or vinegar) until the curdled milk and water separate completely.
- When the milk curdles completely, you can see the greenish color whey and at this time turn off the flame.
- Use a muslin cloth or thin cloth to separate the curdled milk from whey.
- Line a colander with the muslin cloth and drain the curdled milk.
- Rinse the curdled milk to remove the sourness from lemon juice or vinegar.
- Now carefully gather the edges of the muslin cloth together and squeeze the water from it.
- Tie the edges of the muslin cloth together and keep it on a plate.
- Keep a heavy weight on the top of the muslin cloth for 30 minutes.
- After half an hour, paneer block will be ready and you can cut it in desired shape.
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