Is Cottage Cheese the right English translation for Paneer? We can say both yes and no. Preparing cottage cheese is a long process that also has cream which provides the rich and creamy texture. Compared to Cottage Cheese, paneer preparation is not complex and it is easy to prepare Homemade Paneer. As both paneer and Cottage cheese are prepared by curdling the milk I took the liberty of calling Paneer as Indian Cottage Cheese.
In India, specially in North India, paneer dishes bring smile on dining table. Starting from the breakfast, lunch, evening tea snacks, dinner and even in desserts we can prepare dishes from paneer like Rasgulla and Rasmalai.
Though many brands are available in the market for Paneer, items disappear quickly from shelves courtesy the current lockdown we are going through. So why wait till next delivery time – prepare paneer in your kitchen and cook your favorite paneer dish with homemade fresh paneer!!
Full fat milk and Vinegar/Lemon juice
For 1 litre milk one tbsp vinegar is required. If you are using lemon juice, add one tbsp water in one tbsp of lemon juice.
Boil milk in a pan.
When milk is boiled, turn off heat and add vinegar or lemon juice. Milk will curdle immediately.
Spread muslin cloth on a sieve. Pour everything over this muslin cloth and wash this chenna nicely in running water so that no taste of lemon or vinegar remains. Squeeze out all water from chhena.
Now hang this chhena in muslin cloth for one hour so that the rest of the water drains out. If you still find chhena too wet, squeeze water with your hands.
Mash chhena properly. Rub it nicely with your palms so that all the grains of chhena become soft and you can collect it like a dough.
Now shape it in square or round shape and keep it in a strong rimmed steel plate.
Keep this upside down on another flat plate.
Now keep some heavy weight on this and let it settle down for 4-5 hours. I have this water can, so I used it as heavy weight. Heavy weight will help in squeezing out the rest of the water and chenna will firmly settle down.
Remove the weight after 4 hours and Homemade Paneer will be ready. Cut it into cubes and keep it in the freezer in a ziplock bag.
If you are not sure about the firmness of paneer, fry a few pieces. If paneer is not firm, it will scatter else it will remain intact.
Now you don’t have to rush to the shop if your family wants paneer with gravy at the dinning table.