How to make homemade paneer recipe or cottage cheese:
To make paneer
1. In a heavy bottomed pan, set the milk up to boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally and make sure not to burn the milk. When the milk comes to a boil, sim the fire and pour the curd gradually into it and keep stirring. If you are using lemon, then mix lemon juice in half cup of warm water and add it to the milk. Reduce the heat and stir continuously until the milk completely separates into curd and whey. If it doesn’t seem to be separating completely, add another tablespoon of curd. (If you are using lemon juice or vinegar, add more.)
2. Once the milk starts curdling, you will see a light yellowish whey along with the curdled milk. If the milk has curdled completely, stop adding curd (lemon juice or vinegar). Remove from the heat when the separation of the curds and yellowish whey is complete. Now, turn off the heat, add the ice cubes (optional) and remove the curdled milk from stove. Let it sit aside for 10-15 minutes. Do not stir it. Meantime, get the colander ready.
3. Place the muslin cloth over a colander or strainer. The muslin cloth should be large enough to collect and wrap the whey. Rest the colander over a large vessel. Now, strain the curdled milk through a clean muslin cloth.
4. Then, hold it under running water for a minute so that the smell and sourness of the curdling agent (curd/lemon/ vinegar) goes away and also prevents the cheese getting stiff.
5. Now, gather the corners of the muslin cloth into a bundle and squeeze out the excess water as much as you can. Hang the muslin cloth either in your kitchen cabinet or cabinet knob or the kitchen sink tap. Leave it as such for about 2 hours, and the excess whey will drain completely.
6. If you want to cut the paneer into cubes, place it under a heavy object for 1 hour. Before you cut paneer, refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes (optional). The cheese will be firmer and easier to handle. Then, cut the paneer into cubes and store it in an airtight container. Now, Paneer is ready!
- To make sweets, paneer can be refrigerated for 1 to 2 days.
- Paneer can be refrigerated for 2-3 days or kept frozen for months.
- Do not expose paneer balls to air for a long period. It will dry out.
What to do with the whey?
- Whey is healthy. You can use the whey to split the milk again for Rasgulla.
- You can make a bread dough with the whey in place of water.
- You can use whey to cook vegetables.
- Paneer softness depends largely on the milk’s fat content.
- Substitute the whey in any baking recipe that calls for water.
- Freeze the whey for future use. Put the whey in ice cubes trays or small cups and pop it out for later use.
- The cloth should be tight enough to wrap the paneer well otherwise paneer will lose its shape and the sides will be crumbly.
- Color of the paneer depends on the milk we use.
- Make sure you use a cloth that drains the whey water well. I use muslin cloth.