(Indian, Pakistani fresh cheese)
Paneer, or panir, is a fresh, unsalted cheese, often homemade, that is a primary source of protein for many India's millions of vegetarians. Easily made, it is most often cut into cubes and fried or stirred into curries. Paneer is also used in Pakistani, Persian and some Central Asian cuisines.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
- Milk -- 1 quart
- Lemon juice -- 1 tablespoon
- Bring milk just to boil, then remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and let set 10 minutes to separate the curds and whey.
- Strain the curds and whey by pouring them through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer. Squeeze the excess whey from the curds and flatten them out into a 1/2-inch thick square in the cheesecloth.
- Wrap the curds well with the cheesecloth and place them on a plate. Place another plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy, like a clean brick or canned goods. Set in the refrigerator and chill for 1 to 8 hours to allow and excess whey to be squeezed out.
- Remove from cheesecloth and cut into squares for use in recipes.
- A pinch salt can be added to the milk if you like. But paneer is not typically a salty cheese.
- A reasonable vegan substitute for paneer is firm tofu. Tofu is not Indian, but its texture and flavor are fairly similar to paneer.