An unaged, unsalted acid set, non-melting fresh cheese – the most common 'cheese' in India. Vegetarian, as no rennet is used as coagulant, it is an important protein source for non-vegan buddhists. It can be used in much the same way as firm tofu, i.e marinated, fried, in sauce...a very versatile dairy product.
Paneer is the only type of cheese traditionally known in South Asia. The ruling aristocracy in the second millennium AD was of Turkic (Central Asian) and Persian origin, and it was they who introduced paneer to South Asia.
In Bangladesh and eastern India, two kinds of cheese are commonly found: ponir (a hard paneer) and chhena (a soft paneer).
- 2 ltre milk
- 4 tsp lemon juice (more if bottled, 6-8tsp), vinegar or ½ tsp citric acid dissolved in ½ c warm water.
Bring the milk to a rolling boil over a double boiler (to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pot).
Add the acid, stir and watch clumps form as the whey is expelled from the milk, leaving the hot solids to form into a mass.
Drain (use the whey for bread, cooking rice, on the garden) and place the 'curds' into a sanitised cheesecloth/muslin in a colander.
Place a bowl of water on top, to fit the colander, press for an hour or so – less means fluffier paneer, more means firmer.
Recipe suggestion: Palak Paneer – I love this dish, which is mild and from North India.