09 May 2012

Recipe a Day: Paneer

This is a very basic cheese.  I call it paneer here, but Indians aren't the only people to make cheese like this. I use it in lots of different recipes.  It's best with fresh, whole milk, but you can use most any milk (I'm not sure about ultra pasteurized or shelf stable milk though).  It makes about 1 cup of cubed cheese per liter of milk.  I don't know the weight though.  You can make any amount you like.  The only difference is in how much vinegar you'll use.

Here's what you'll need:

3 liters milk

This is about 3 liters of milk.  Heat it up.

Stir every so often so it doesn't start to burn on the bottom.

Turn off the heat when it's just starting to boil.

And add your vinegar.  This is 80% vinegar so I just needed a few drops.  If you're using regular vinegar in the US, you'll need a few tablespoons. Start to stir.

You can see here that it's starting to curdle a bit, but it's not enough.  If it's all still white, add a little more vinegar and stir again.

Till it looks like this.  Not all white anymore.

Not really pretty is it?

Strain the cheese.

And rinse well in potable water to get rid of the vinegar. 

Use a spoon to mix it around to make sure all the vinegar is gone.  My four-year-old was taking the pictures now, so it's a little wonky.  When you think you're done, taste the cheese to make sure it's not vinegary (or smell it).

And set it somewhere to drain for about 20 minutes.  After it drains, you can use it as a soft cheese, or as tvorog.  If you live in Bishkek, you'll see this sold around town.

When it's drained some, dump it on a cloth.

Squeeze it into a ball to get rid of more whey.

See?  It's a lot firmer already.

Then wrap it into a tight package.

And press.  I put it on a plate, then top it with a cutting board loaded with weird stuff from the pantry.  Let it sit there for at least two hours, and it's better if you can go longer.  It will get firmer the longer it presses, and firmer cheese is easier to cook with.
After it's pressed as long as you like, unstack all the stuff and unwrap your cheese.

Store it in the fridge in a plastic bag.  It's not salted, so it doesn't have a lot of flavor by itself, but it's really good in a lot of things.  It lasts at least a week in the fridge, or you can freeze it.


  1. Very interesting. I'll have to try that. I've been making yogurt recently and have been amazed at how easy it is and how much better than most commercial yogurts.

    Your other recipe I want to try is the fish that you posted the other day made with tamarind paste, but the nearest store that sells tamarind paste is far away, so I have to wait until I'm in that neighborhood.

  2. Homemade yogurt is the best. I practically live off it here.

    I have a couple of other recipes with tamarind that I'll post to hopefully make buying it worthwhile. :)

  3. Thanks for the very basic cheese recipe. Great suggestions and step by step procedure.