Paneer is a type of fresh cheese, meaning you can make it and eat it right away — no aging or culturing required. It’s also one of the easiest cheeses to make at home. Paneer is a very popular ingredient in Indian dishes.
So… how did I get the idea to make cheese at home?
My boyfriend and I have visited Ayurveda Center just recently for consultations on nutrition. We wanted to eat healthier and feel better, and get rid of his allergies and my adult acne, that started bothering me in the last two years.
The ayurveda doctor gave us a questionnaire, talked to us, checked our heart pulse and did a few more examinations. He told us our body type is vata – kapha. It’s great that we have the same body type because it will be easier to cook. 🙂 He also told us that our pitta dosha is unbalanced and prescribed us a diet. It’s actually a very healthy diet and not so hard to follow.
Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest holistic (“whole body”) healing systems. According to ayurveda, there are three doshas, three basic types of energy – vata, pitta and kapha. All three of them can be found in everyone and everything, but in different proportions. Each dosha controls a different body function and the health issues you developes are linked to the balance of your doshas.
Anyway, the diet that the doctor prescribed us for the next month consists of lots of vegetables, legumes and grains, and forbids red meat and all cheese except fresh cheese that’s one or two days old. He also said I can eat paneer cheese and that I can actually make it at home very easilly.
My grandpa and grandma live in a village and have had cows since I can remember. They have always produced cheese but I was never interested to learn how to do it.
The ayurveda doctor said “Listen, all you need is two litres of milk and the juice of half a lemon. And that’s all”. How hard can it be?
It’s really very easy.
You really need only two litres of milk, half a lemon and some salt.
1. Pour the milk in a pot and set over medium heat. Bring it to a bare simmer just below the boil. Stir occasionally.
2. Remove the milk from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Very soon after you mix the milk and lemon juice, the acidity in the lemon juice will cause the milk to separate into curds and whey. If it doesn’t start you can add some more lemon.
3. Cover the pot and let it rest for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, the curds should be completely separated and the liquid should look yellow and watery.
4. Put a colander over a bowl and line it with cheesecloth. Carefully scoop or pour the curds into the strainer, letting the whey collect in the bowl beneath.
5. Rinse the curds with some cold water to remove the lemon taste.
6. Gather the cheesecloth in your hand and gently squeeze to remove the excess whey and/or water.
7. Open the cheesecloth and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt over the curds. Stir gently and taste. Add more salt if desired.
8. Then you can press the curds (still in cheese cloth) between two plates and put some weight on the upper plate. Or you can press them in between your hands and leave the curds in cheesecloth hanging so that the weight of the curds forms the paneer. Leave it like this for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes your paneer is finished and ready to use. You can use it immediately or refrigerate for up to two days.
If you refrigerate it, the paneer will be firmer and less likely to crumble than fresh paneer.
Paneer won’t melt or get gooey the way mozzarella or cheddar will, but because of that you can stir chunks into a soup or creamy curry or crumble it over bread or some other dish and the cheese will keep its shape and chewy texture.
And a few more tips…
Instead of lemon juice, you can also use vinegar to separate curds and whey.
As with making fresh ricotta, which is kind of similar, this process for making paneer works best if you’re using whole milk.
The leftover whey can be used in place of water in any baking recipe, whizzed into smoothies, or drunk on its own over ice.
To summarize, it is very easy to make it and the joy you get out of making your own cheese (who would think!) is just great!