Monday, July 12, 2010

Paneer- Indian Cottage Cheese with step by step pictures

When I wrote about making paneer at home in an earlier post a lot of you wanted to know how it is done. Since I had not taken pictures that time, I had to wait until I made paneer again, to take some pictures and do this post. Finally, as promised here is the post on homemade paneer with the step by step pictures. Because  the lighting in my kitchen is not too great, the pictures are not great either, but I hope it gives you all an idea of the process and the steps.

Before moving on to the paneer, there is one other development that I would like to share with my readers. Some of you may have already heard of the Tried and Tasted event started by Zlamushka    This month the event is being hosted by Janet and she has chosen this site for this months theme. Thanks Janet for thinking of this site as a theme for your event. Ever since I have heard this news I have been alternating between excitement and nervousness.  Excited for obvious reasons and nervous that all the recipes that the participants try should work out well :-)

For those of you unfamiliar with this event, the whole premise of Tried and Tasted is that each month a blog is chosen and participants try something from that blog. Hop on over to Janet's announcement for more details on this event.


Ingredients and Method to make Paneer
7 cups whole milk
3 tbsp white vinegar ( I used a combination of both vinegar and lemon since I did not want the vinegar to overwhelm the flavor of paneer, you can use only lemon juice if you want too )
3 tbsp lemon juice

The first step is to prep your colander. Place a colander such as this one, on a large heat safe container. The container should be large enough to hold all the whey when the cheese is strained. Line the colander with a thin cloth, something like a muslin cloth or cheesecloth.
In a large heavy bottomed pan, bring whole milk to a boil. The milk may rise a little before you add the vinegar/ lemon juice so make sure that the container has some room for that.
I have heard that you can flavor the cheese by adding spices/ herbs to the milk at this stage so that the cheese will have some flavor. I have not tried it, mostly because I like my paneer plain and I find that  unflavored whey is more versatile as compared to flavored whey.

Once the milk begins to boil and rise, add vinegar or lemon juice one tablespoon at a time. You can use a combination of the two and keep stirring with a spatula. As soon as the vinegar/ lemon juice is added the milk will begin to curdle and will look something like this.....

Continue to keep on heat, adding more  vinegar or lemon juice if required until the mixture looks like this.... I used a total of 6 tbsp of  vinegar+lemon juice for this quantity of milk. If the whey turns slightly greenish, then it means it is ready and can be removed from heat, if it is still milky then you need to keep on heat for a few more minutes.

Pour the curdled milk through the lined colander to strain the cheese
Twist the cloth gently to make sure that the cheese strains entirely

Place a small plat or flat object on top of the cloth and place a heavy object on top of it. I placed my marble mortar on top as it seemed to be the heaviest object in my kitchen.Let the paneer/ cheese drain for about an hour or so. If it is strained too long then it will lose its moisture and become rubbery, about an hour works out well for me.
In an hours time, remove the paneer and place in a ziploc bag and refrigerate, or cut into cubes and use in any recipe of choice. You can store the whey in a glass jar/ bottle in the refrigerator and use it in making the dough for Indian flat breads/rotis/ phulkas, the rotis and phulkas end up becoming very very soft this way. I even use the whey in my chutneys instead of water when I am grinding the chutneys.

Paneer cut into cubes and ready to be used in cooking :-)

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