Homemade Paneer

We love Indian food in our house. Back in my college days, I lived right in the heart of “Curry Hill” in New York. Living along a corridor of fantastic kosher and Indian restaurants, I had the opportunity to discover my palate for Indian food. I don’t think I had ever had authentic Indian food until I moved to New York. Dining at local Indian places was far better than any of the other kosher options in the neighborhood. One of the first dishes I tried was mutter paneer. It’s a curry dish made up of peas and the special Indian cheese called paneer. From there, I samples a variety of dishes and have made a variety of Indian dishes in my home. Had never tried making paneer dishes at home. You can’t find paneer cheese with a kosher symbol. It never occurred to me that I could make it. Finally, one day, I came across a couple blogs that discussed paneer. All it contains is milk and lemon juice! Whoa! Who knew it could be that easy to make. I quickly picked up some cheesecloth and got to work.


1/2 gallon of whole milk = 8 cups
3-4 tbsp. lemon juice

Before you get to working on the stove, get your strainer and cheesecloth ready. Set the strainer in the sink and line it with some cheese cloth. You may need to double layer the cheesecloth, depending on how big the holes are.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat up the milk. Bring the milk to a boil, but don’t let it boil over.

When the milk starts to boil, turn off the heat.

Start by stirring in about 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Keep stirring and you should see the milk start to curdle. If it’s not doing it’s curdling job, add some more lemon juice. I needed a bit over 3 tablespoons total.

Keep stirring the curdles.  Pour the curdy cheese mixture in to the cheesecloth-lined strainer.

At this point, the mixture is a bit like a dryer cottage cheese or ricotta cheese. This is also a good point to add a little bit of salt. The cheese is pretty bland on it’s town.

Pull up the size of the cheese cloth and squeeze out as much liquid as possible, while forming the mound of cheese in to a disc shape.

Now it’s time to press the liquid out of the cheese. I like to press the liquid out similar to the way I press the water out of tofu.

Place the lined cheese on a rimmed plate and place a heavy plate on top of it. Weigh it down with a heavy can or two. Press the cheese for an hour – pouring off the liquid when needed.

When completely drained, you will have this lovely disc of cheese. Cut it up however you’d like and use it in a variety of meals. We had it in our palak paneer!


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