October 17, 2010

Homemade Paneer

The idea of making cheese at home is one of those beautiful things which you never really appreciate until you actually do it.

Paneer is a type of cottage cheese (non-matured) that is popular in India and practically every other place where Indians live, especially among vegetarians. We just can’t get enough. It has quickly become a staple ingredient in dishes on menus in underdog vegetarian restaurants all over the UK.

The devotion we feel for this decadent cheese could be likened to the omnivore’s appetite for meat. Paneer is packed with protein and is fairly healthy as far as cheeses go, so don’t feel bad for once in a while binges. I won’t tell if you don’t.

Paneer is also famous for making delicious a whole load of otherwise boring dishes. Palak Paneer, Paneer Makhani, Chilli Paneer, Mutter Paneer, Paneer Butter Masala, Shahi Paneer, Paneer Jalfrezi and Saag Paneer to name a few. I will stop there before I drool all over my keyboard and lose all functionality.

You can use this recipe to make all of the above dishes, plus a huge range of others. Your imagination is only restricted by itself. If you are making a curry, remember to press the cheese under weights firmly so that you can cube it without it falling apart. Having said this, I quite like it when the paneer is a little misshapen, utterly homemade and almost melting in the sauce. Note: Paneer is a non-melting cheese but I had to mention that when it is immersed in a great sauce it becomes so soft that it almost tastes half-melted. Slurp. This is the advantage homemade paneer has over shop bought. Indeed, shop bought is great if you want a firmer texture for your dish.

Homemade Paneer

You can also crumble the fresh paneer and use it in samosas, spring rolls, shammi kebabs, kofta and lots of other tasty things, including desserts. Watch this space.

I'm hoping to post a few more dishes that you can make with your homemade paneer in the near future. In the meantime, why not check out my other paneer dishes?

If you don’t want to use your paneer straight away, you can refrigerate it for up to a week (wrapped up well) or in the freezer for a couple of months. Also, I like to keep a couple of shop-bought blocks of paneer in the freezer for those pesky cravings.

Homemade Paneer: How to make Paneer at Home
(makes 3 cups)

116 fl. oz. (6 pints) full fat milk
¾ cup (220ml) lemon juice


1. In a large, non stick saucepan heat the milk on a very low heat until boiling (see Step 1). Note: Heating the milk on a high flame will almost certainly burn the entire bottom of your pan. I find that rubbing the pan with a little oil before adding the milk (and using a non-stick pan) reduces the risk of burning the hell out of your beloved cookware. Stir the milk often to stop it settling at the bottom of your pan. If, by chance it does settle and burn, do not scrape the burnt gunk off. It will ruin your cheese. And your mood.

2. Place a clean cheesecloth in a colander (Step 2) and put the whole thing in an empty sink.

3. When your milk is boiling hard, add the lemon juice and briefly stir. Leave it for a couple of minutes until all of the curds separate from the whey (Step 3). I love this part, it’s like seeing a beautiful yet ugly otherworldly miracle. Let this settle for five minutes or so.

4. Tip the contents of the pan into the cheesecloth over the colander. You could save the whey to curdle your milk next time you make paneer. It will keep in the fridge for months. I like to save it for baking too. If you’re a busy person then let it drain away.

5. Give the curds a good rinse under the cold tap to rise away any excess acidity.

6. Pick up the cheesecloth and squeeze out most of the water (Step 4). Be careful, it can be very hot.

7. Place a plate or bowl under your colander (to catch the whey) and lots of weight on top of the cheesecloth for at least an hour for a crumbly paneer, or longer for a firm paneer (Step 5). My object of choice was a really heavy mortar. You can use whatever you like. Not the dog or your spouse, mind you.

8. Unwrap and enjoy your fresh, homemade cheese. Crumble it, cube it and create with it.

Love Sanjana

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21 responses to “Homemade Paneer”

  1. Priya says:

    Wonderful looking paneer..

  2. Satya says:

    nothing can beat paneer…and when its homemade it is the best … loved the survey .. enjoyed it : )


  3. Brie: Le Grand Fromage says:

    yum, paneer is the best! i love good homemade paneer in a curry sauce with jasmine rice.

    love the new look, too!

  4. Mina Joshi says:

    I love homemade paneer!!

  5. Ushnish Ghosh says:

    Dear Sanjana
    Dushera greetings and best wishes on Durga puja. The Goddess will look after you and forever.
    I was bit tied up with some work, hence cd not visit your blog. Now I will see what I missed here.
    I make paneer at home for making Rasgullas. I use whey or vinegar. Will try lemon soon.
    Your tips are really great !!
    Washing the paneer is required to make white Rasagullas. Washing removes galactose, which caramelizes at low temperature. ( That pink tinge you get when you concentrate milk for kheer and all)
    I liked the photographs , very nice indeed.
    I am sure you are doing fine with your studies,
    I feel good reading your comments at my Biriyani blog. Try the spicing, it is very different.
    As the recipe doesnt have any onion or garlic,I guess the origin cd be from Kashmir.
    Have a nice week ahead

  6. penny aka jeroxie says:

    I made paneer for the first time this year and can't believe how easy it was!

  7. <br><br><br><br><br>Dr.Sameena Prathap says:

    Hi Sanjana,

    A beautifully explained post..



  8. eatgreek.net says:

    interesting recipe! thanks! 😀

  9. Anonymous says:

    yummy paneer to make delicious Paneer Butter Masala

  10. Patels_In_Canada says:

    How do you use the whey in baking ? I think its the first time I am hearing it. How does the whey help the next time in curdling the milk (assuming you meant making Paneer again)?

  11. Fight the Fat Foodie says:

    thanks for sharing, I'll being trying this myself soon!

  12. aipi says:

    Making paneer at home is so convenient , isn't it..I make it at home as well..liked the step by step explanation..the texture of your paneer is beautiful!

    US Masala

  13. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets says:

    I've been wanting to make my own cheese from mascarpone to mozzarella for years. Now I definitely need to add paneer to the list. Thanks for your tips!

  14. Sharmilee! :) says:

    Lovely representation with stepwise…looks perfect

  15. AshKuku says:

    Perfect & enchanting…. But I would remain lethargic to the entire process…. 😉 I know My Bad! Hugs))))


  16. Gayathri's Cook Spot says:

    Nice Tutorial. You have received an award. Please visit my site and collect it. Best Wishes.

  17. The Mom Chef says:

    I've never even heard of paneer before so this was a surprise to me. It does seem much like ricotta. Also, congrats on the award. You deserve it!

  18. Sanjana says:

    Thank you so much for your amazing comments everyone. I really hope you enjoy making this and becoming master Desi cheesemakers!

    Patels in Canada- The whey is great for using in eggless baking because of the acidity and lactose. The acidity reacts with baking soda/powder and encourages it to rise while the lactose promotes a good texture. I'm not too sure on the science behind it helping the milk curdle next time but I know that it works and saves you buying more lemons to juice 🙂 Sorry I couldn't have been of more help!

  19. The Cheese Goddess says:

    Your photos are outstanding. Though I've never made cheese myself, your recipe might just move me to try! I would love to see (and eat) a future recipe with Paneer and curry!

  20. jessicajlee says:

    Yum! I often make my own paneer, but always get so impatient that I don't leave it long enough to firm up.

  21. kirstin cook says:

    Can you release the paneer survey? thanks!

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