Paneer (or Panir) is a medium firmness rather tasteless cheese that is close in consistency and use to firm tofu. I say its tasteless because this cheese does not have any salt in it, traditionally.. but thats not to say you CANT add flavor.. more on that later.
It couldnt be easier to make and as with most things, people say the home made version is oh so much better than store bought versions.
half a gallon of milk
2-3 tbsp lemon or lime juice (have 2tbsp or so extra, depending on your milk you may need it)
So easy. Bring the milk to a boil, stir in the lemon or lime juice, reduce heat, and keep stirring. It may take up to 10 minutes, but curds will form. I dont always get the nice big curds, sometimes they are quite small (I suspect it has something to do with my stirring, my pots are heavy bottom but will scortch if im not careful so i have to stir alot) but no worries, the paneer tastes the same either way. If curds DONT form, add more citrus.
Let it sit 5 minutes after the curds form, and then pour into your cheesecloth, set in a strainer. Save or discard the whey, I save it- I’m going to be making a few recipes with it in a few days (yep they’ll be posted!).
Now here is where it becomes Paneer. First, let it drain once initially and then draw the corners of your cheesecloth up, tie into loose knots and “hang” the paneer. Let that drain for 30 minutes. Next, twist gently to release even more whey, then twist into a tight ball. Hang again, another 30-60 minutes. I couldnt figure out how to make it hang… until.. well, look!
At this point you should be able to untie and have a ball formed. The ball I got with this recipe is about the size of a clenched fist… so I am going to double the recipe next time, assuming that for 3 adults and two kids, thats the perfect amount of paneer. I’m thinking about making a curry dish.
Assuming you have some citrus around already (I always keep limes and lemons around)… and you find a deal on milk (its around 2.30 a gallon here) you are looking at a HUGE batch of paneer for the cost of the milk and some time/elbow grease.
A note on cheesecloth also: you can re-use it. I wash and re-use my cheesecloth because while its not super expensive, if you are using cheese often enough, you’ll go through alot of it. So wash it, hang it, re-use it lovelies!
A note on flavoring: try new things! Add some salt. Add some FANCY salt! Add fresh herbs, dried herbs, anything you think might taste lovely! Just add it before you strain.