First published March 2014. Republished with updated content June 2020.
Paneer is fresh, unsalted, unaged Indian cheese and is quite often homemade; a very quick and easy process. It’s just a matter of curdling some boiling milk with lemon juice or yoghurt.
Paneer is a great cheese to cook with as like halloumi, it doesn’t melt when heated and for those who find halloumi too strong, paneer’s mild, almost bland taste is just perfect! Think mozzarella, but sturdy.
Homemade Paneer Recipe
As mentioned, homemade paneer is so easy. All we do is:
- Heat some milk up – about 5 minutes.
- Curdle the milk with lemon juice or yoghurt – about 5 minutes.
- Strain, rinse, drain – 35 minutes.
- Leave to set for 30 minutes.
What you’ll be left with after the milk has curdled are the curd and the greenish whey. The curd is the paneer.
And here is an old YouTube video of mine demonstrating the process:
What to do with the Whey?
Whey isn’t just whey. There are actually 2 kinds of whey you can get from making different things: acid whey and sweet whey.
Acid whey (also known as sour whey) is produced when making more acidic products like pour paneer today, feta and and and strained yoghurt.
Sweet whey is what you get when you’re making cheese with rennet; most hard and soft cheeses fall into this category.
There are so many uses for whey, but not all of them are suitable for both types of whey. I’ll just list some of the uses for today’s acid whey from making our homemade paneer:
- My mum used to water our plants with it. Apparently, it’ll combat powdery mildew on plants.
- I water my tomatoes with it (and any other acid loving plants.
- I use it for baking, to replace a little of any milk that’s called for. Bear in mind that the whey isn’t fatty, it’ll be the equivalent of skimmed milk.
- I add it to smoothies.
- You can also add it to stews and curries.
Making Flavoured Paneer
Once you’ve mastered the art of making simple paneer, the nest step is to make flavoured ones. And the possibility here is endless:
- salt and pepper
How long will Homemade Paneer last?
If kept in the fridge, covered, it will last for a week. Some people leave their paneer covered in a bowl of water, but I’ve never bothered with this.
Your homemade paneer will also freeze very well.
Look out in the next few weeks on Paneer Recipes.
That’s it, fancy trying your hand at making your own paneer? Let’s get our aprons on then!
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Homemade Paneer Recipe (Homemade Indian Cheese)
- 2 large saucepans (one to curdle the milk, one to drain and hold the whey)
- Double layer of muslin or cheese cloth
- Large sieve
- 2 litres organic whole milk
- 5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (or you can use 300g/10.5oz yoghurt)
- Line the sieve with the muslin or cheese cloth and place on one of the pots and place in the sink.
- Heat the milk on medium-high heat in a large heavy based saucepan. When it starts simmering, keep a close eye on it as it will boil over quickly.
- Add the lemon juice and gently stir to help the separation of the curd from the whey.
- If you find that the milk hasn’t fully curdled, add a little bit more lemon juice. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes.
- Pour the curdled milk through the muslin – the curd will collect in the muslin.
- Pick the 4 ends of the muslin up and squeeze lightly. Be careful, it'll be hot.
- Rinse the curd in cool running water for about 10 seconds.
- Squeeze as much liquid out of the curd/paneer as you can, by twisting the muslin. Be careful, it’ll still be hot. Gloves will help.
- If you want to flavour it, now's the time to do it. Mix it anything you like: salt, herbs, chilli. Then tie it back up in the muslin.
- Hang the curd filled muslin on your kitchen tap and leave to drain for 30 minutes. Or hang it off anything with a bowl underneath to catch the draining liquid.
- Now place the paneer on a flat plate, flattening it as much as is possible with your palm. Place another plate over it and weigh down with some food cans or a saucepan filled with water. Leave it to rest for 30 minutes. Or, if you would like a square or rectangular block of cheese, fit it into a relevant dish and weigh down.
- After 30 minutes, your paneer is all ready to be used.