Paneer is a fresh cheese that is super easy to make and requires no aging or culturing. It is made simply using full fat milk and vinegar (you can also use lemon juice instead of the vinegar) – a basic chemical reaction happens when the acid (vinegar or lemon juice) is tipped into the milk and causes the casein to ‘clump’ together to form the paneer.
It is typically used in Indian cuisine and so it pairs wonderfully to spices such as turmeric and cumin, which I have used in this recipe. It has a very mild flavour and is crumbly in texture. It will not melt and holds its shape, so it is great for use in various vegetarian dishes from soups to curries.
It is still of course dairy, so if you are sensitive to dairy – particularly casein, maybe give this recipe a miss
- 2 litres full cream milk
- ½ - ⅔ cup white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- ½ - 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ tsp cumin seeds roughly chopped (reserve a pinch)
- drizzle olive oil
- Make sure you have ready a strainer lined with a nut milk bag or some cheesecloth that is resting over a bowl.
- In a large pot, heat the milk over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Allow to heat through until milk becomes foamy and frothy but do not let it scald.
- Take off the heat and add ½ cup of the vinegar and stir in gently. The milk solids should separate and curdle - if they don’t, add the additional vinegar. Sprinkle over the turmeric powder and stir gently again. Allow to sit for approximately 10 minutes to allow the curds and whey to separate completely. What you will be left with is yellow lumps of curd and a yellow watery liquid which is the whey.
- Tip the liquid into the strainer lined with a nut milk bag that you have ready. Put the whey (strained liquid) to one side and reserve for later use in cooking soups or stocks.
- Gently squeeze the curds in the muslin cloth and try to remove some of the excess liquid. Open the bag and sprinkle ½ tsp of salt and the cumin seeds, stir through with a spoon and then taste. Add some more salt if required.
- Squeeze the muslin cloth again to remove any more liquid. Leave the curds in the cloth bag and place on a plate, press to form a flat rectangle, keeping the bag tight and tucked under the curd, so that the curd can hold its shape.
- Place another plate on top of the paneer (curd) and place in the fridge overnight.
- Gently remove the paneer from the cheesecloth bag and cut into small squares. Arrange on a plate and top with olive oil and the reserved cumin seeds.
- You can eat the paneer as is as a simple starter or add it to your curry or soups. To make a plain paneer, simply leave out the turmeric and cumin.