June 28, 2020

The Best Homemade Paneer

Perfect Homemade Paneer Recipe

Say hello to The Best Homemade Paneer. It has been perfected over the years to produce a soft and squidgy cheese that cubes and slices beautifully for curries and crumbles like a dream for paratha, samosa and bhurji.

You can of course, use it fresh, just as it is for a melt-in-the-mouth texture, or pan-fry it to create a crispy, golden crust. It’s also a delicious addition to Indo-Chinese favourites like Chilli Paneer and Paneer Manchurian.

Watch how to make Homemade Paneer

How to curdle milk for The Best Homemade Paneer

My preference is to use lemon juice to curdle the milk. This can be either fresh or bottled lemon juice.

You can also use vinegar, citric acid, yoghurt or even leftover whey from a previous batch of paneer to curdle the milk. For 2.5L milk you’ll need the following quantities of each:

How to make soft paneer

This is a super common question and one I’m asked often. The answer is simple: Use milk with ample fat content and curdle the milk slowly you don’t shock the curds into separating quickly. Dilute the acid with water to encourage a slow separation. The last thing to remember is to ensure you don’t press it too hard. A small amount of moisture in the cheese will keep it squidgy. Ultimately, try to introduce temperature changes gradually.

Simple changes you can make for softer paneer:

Paneer for sweet and savoury dishes

Follow my recipe to make perfect paneer, whatever your intended use for it may be. Whether you want to make cubes for Chilli Paneer and Paneer Tikka, crumble it for Paneer Kulcha or use the drained and kneaded chhena for making Rasmalai.

Perfect Homemade Paneer

The Best Homemade Paneer: Troubleshooting

What kind of milk do I need for making paneer?

Full-fat milk (at least 3% fat) produces good quality paneer. Try to find the least homogenised, least processed milk possible for better yield. If the milk is overly processed, it will not curdle or may only produce a small amount of curds. This is because the heating process integral to long shelf life damages the proteins in the milk.

Do I have to use lemon juice in the curdling process?

No, you can also use vinegar, citric acid, yoghurt or even leftover whey from a previous batch of paneer to curdle the milk. See my note above for quantities.

How do I stop the milk burning the base of the pan?

Some people advocate a small amount of water in the bottom of the pan. I’m not one of those people and that would only dilute our lovely full-fat milk. Instead, I prefer to rub the base of the pan with oil. Anything milk that burns will lift off easily once you’re done making the paneer. Don’t scrape the base of the pan when making paneer as the burnt bits can lift off and leave your cheese speckled with burnt milk solids.

Can I use low-fat milk to make paneer?

You can, however, the yield will be much less depending on fat content and it may also be quite firm to eat.

Can I use cream to make paneer for softer paneer?

I would advice mixing both full-fat milk and cream (a 3:1 ratio). Using pure cream may be too fatty and may prevent the paneer from setting.

How much paneer does this recipe make?

350g.

Can I make paneer from spoiled milk?

Yes. Simply bring it to the boil in a large, heavy-based pan and the sourness of the milk will cause a natural separation to occur. Strain the milk as directed in my recipe below.

Help! My milk won’t curdle

Add more of your chosen acid, e.g. lemon juice, little by little whilst stirring gently in a figure of eight motion. If the milk still doesn’t separate, your milk may be too processed/filtered to make paneer. Don’t worry, you can still use it as buttermilk for baking.

What can I do with leftover whey?

The possibilities are endless! Use it in sweet and savoury baking, in particular, cake and bread baking. You can also use leftover whey for making Indian bread like roti, thepla, naan, paratha and bhatura. Or add it to your morning smoothies for a low-fat protein boost. Kadhi made with leftover whey is deliciously sour. Leftover whey can even be used to separate more milk for making paneer again. It’s super nutritious and versatile. Keep it bottled in a clean container for up to 2 weeks.

Can I freeze paneer?

Sure! Wrap it well and freeze for up to 3 months, Defrost at room temperature and eat within 48 hours.

How long can I keep fresh paneer in the fridge?

This perfect homemade paneer will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days. Wrap it well to ensure it doesn’t dry out.

Soft Homemade Paneer

The Best Homemade Paneer (Softest-Ever Cubes!)

Soft and squidgy homemade paneer for curries, paratha fillings, chilli paneer, samosas and more. This simple recipe includes tips for making fresh paneer that tastes like it just came from the dairywala.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Appetizer, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: cheese, dairy free, milk, paneer, vegetarian
Servings: 350 g
Author: Sanjana

Equipment

  • Large, heavy-based pan
  • Muslin or cheesecloth
  • Colander or sieve
  • Large bowl

Ingredients

  • 2.5 L full-fat milk (at least 3% fat) Note that ultra-filtered milk isn't suitable for making cheese
  • 100 ml lemon juice
  • 250 ml water
  • 1/4 tsp any flavourless oil to grease the base of the pan
  • 1 tsp salt optional

Instructions

  • In a bowl or jug, mix together the lemon juice and water.
  • Use a kitchen towel dipped in oil to grease the base of the pan. This will stop the milk from burning on the bottom.
  • Pour the milk into the pan and heat over a medium flame. Don't stir the milk too much as we don't want to create too much froth. Don't leave the milk unattended, it can boil over quite quickly. Once the milk comes to a boil, switch the heat off.
  • Slowly add the lemon and water mixture and stir the milk very gently to disperse. Imagine gently drawing a figure of eight in the pan. If the milk isn't curdling, add more of the lemon and water mixture until it does.
  • You'll know the paneer is ready when the curds look like little white clouds floating the a yellow/green-ish water (this is the whey).
  • Line a colander or sieve with a clean muslin or cheesecloth. You can wet the cloth if isn't sitting in the colander well. Place the colander over a large bowl to catch the drained whey.
  • Pour the mixture into the colander and allow the whey to drain out.
  • Next, transfer the bundle of drained curds (along with the muslin) into a bowl while you pour the whey into another bowl or simply swap it with another bowl.
  • The curds now need to be washed to remove any excess acidic flavour. Pour plenty of warm water over the cheese and agitate with a spoon to wash away the sourness. I use around 1L water for this process.
  • Once washed, dissolve the salt in another 500ml warm water and pour this over the curds to season it. This step is optional. Mix it well.
  • Wrap the muslin over the top of the curds, as flat as you can get it. Press gently with your hands to drain off excess water.
  • Place a flat plate over the top and weigh the curds down with something heavy (like a few tins of beans, a mortar or books) to drain off remaining water and lightly set the paneer. The heavier the weight you apply, the firmer set your paneer will be. I like to apply a light weight at this point so that I can mould it properly later.
  • After an hour, the paneer is ready to use. It may be slightly crumbly. If you prefer a firmer set for cubing and slicing, either set in the fridge overnight or do as I do and mould it in a dish, tin or bowl with more pressing.

Optional step for moulding the paneer:

  • Transfer the lightly-set paneer to a small tin or ceramic/glass dish, about 12cm wide. Keep it in the muslin/cheesecloth for easier unmoulding later. Press the paneer in with the back of a spoon. It doesn't matter of it breaks and crumbles as you'll be pressing it again shortly. Wrap the paneer up with the muslin and apply more pressure with a plate and weight.
  • Pop the whole thing, plate and weight included in the fridge overnight to set. The next day your block of fresh paneer will be ready to cube and slice for all your favourite paneer recipes.

Video

Notes

  • My preference is to use lemon juice to curdle the milk. This can be either fresh or bottled lemon juice.
  • You can also use vinegar, citric acid, yoghurt or even leftover whey from a previous batch of paneer to curdle the milk. For 2.5L milk you’ll need the following quantities of each:
    • 2 tbsp white vinegar mixed with 250ml water
    • 1 tsp citric acid mixed with 250ml water
    • 100g sour natural yoghurt whisked with 2 tbsp water
    • 250ml sour whey

Pin this recipe for later!

Soft and squidgy homemade paneer for curries, paratha fillings, chilli paneer, samosas and more. This simple recipe includes tips for making fresh paneer that tastes like it just came from the dairywala.
Soft and squidgy homemade paneer for curries, paratha fillings, chilli paneer, samosas and more. This simple recipe includes tips for making fresh paneer that tastes like it just came from the dairywala.

If you like this, you’ll love my recipe for Paneer Kulcha

Paneer Kulcha
Learn how to make ultra-flaky Amritsari-style Paneer Kulcha with me. These flatbreads are famous in North India for their crispy layers of dough and delicious variety of fillings. I stuff my Kulcha with soft paneer, onions, ginger, chillies and a blend of toasted spices. I grill each Kulcha over an open flame and finish each one with a pool of melting butter.
Love Sanjana

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