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paneer


torakris
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I attended a cooking class last week were the instructor taught us how to make paneer.

this is what we did::

we put 2 tablespoons (30cc) of rice vinegar into a medium sized saucepan and brought it just to a boil, we then took the milk (1,000 cc in all) and added a little say a 1/4 cop or so and swirled it in the pan, it curdles almost immediately, then add another 1/4 cup and swirl it again, this will also curdle rather quickly, then add the rest of the milk.

cook over fairly high heat, it boils quite rapidly just be sure not to let it boil over, after about 5 minutes it will separate completely at this time pour it into a strainer and you are done.

The resulting product is quite crumbly and the taste is very similar to ricotta.

To make blocks we were told to wrap it in cheesecloth and press it with weights.

If you use it right away, it is actually in very small crumbs(think similar to dry cottage cheese)), but when i made it a couple days ago I left it sitting in the strainer for a good hour or so, and it formed one large mass which I just broke into large pieces with my fingers.

So now my questions:

we used rice vinegar because we are in Japan and it is the most readily available, what is the traditonal acid that is used?

NOTE: there was no vinegar taste in the what so ever in the finished product

we used whole milk, but can low fat be substituted?

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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In India, I believe we use rice vinegar as well.

And the best paneer comes from whole milk.

I am very sensitive to vinegar and can detect it easily. It annoys me more when I taste dessert made with paneer where vinegar has been used. It spoils the creamy texture of an otherwise splendid dessert.

I also find the paneer I use breaking the milk with buttermil or yogurt to be far creamier and tastier. But it is a very small taste difference. And you do use much more yogurt or buttermilk to break milk. Two tablespoons of these would not do the trick.

In India we hand the paneer or weigh it down in the manner that you did on your own. We like the paneer to form a mass that can be cubed and used without breaking into crumbs.

For desserts, the softer crumbs are what we look for. And then, one hardly weighs the paneer down, if at all.

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can you use other types of vinegars or acids (ie. lemon juice) to make paneer?

Lemon juice is commonly used in India to make paneer.

Again, lemon does the same thing to paneer as vinegar. It is just a tad gentler.

But like I said before, you only have to worry about this if you are preparing desserts. Otherwise, it hardly matters how you curdle the milk.

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Torakris,

The method of heating the rice vinegar, then adding the milk to it and boiling it in my humble opinion is WRONG.

The sequence should be to bring the milk to boil, preferebally in a thick bottmed pot/pan and stirring it to avoid it getting burnt at the bottom and giving the paneer a burnt taste.

Once the milk is boiling add something sour to split the milk.

Vinegar, lime or lemon juice. used in the right proportion will not have an aceidic taste in the paneer. We use vinegar at the restaurant where I work.

Just keep adding a little at a time until the milk splits. Continuue boiling until the cheese seperates and you see an almost clear liquid ( a few minutes should do it). Strain in a muslin cloth tie in a ball and hang it for a few hours.

Adding too much vinegar/lemon juice will make the paneer hard.

Your target is soft ( though firm ) paneer and some people including my mother use sour yogurt to split the milk in the belief that it results in a better end product.

You do not want to boil the milk too long after the paneer has seperated as prolonged heating will also harden your paneer and you will lose some of the nutrional benefits. Some people, including us at the reataurant, will turn off the heat and add cold water once all the cheese has seperated. This stops further cooking and your paneer will be softer.

To quickly form the paneer you can tie it up in muslin cloth and set a pot of water on topof it to drain the water. If the weight is too heavy or you weigh it down too long you will sqeeze out too much moisture and your paneer will againg become hard.

I think I made it all sound too complicated. Don't worry you will be making the best paneer in a couple of tries.

Just a point of intrest, Indian Halwais ( sweet makers) who made a lot of paneer and Indian kitchens 20-30 years ago also used 'Phatkari' ( alum I believe it is in english) to split the milk. I dont know if they still use it but it coagulates and seperates the milk.

I am sure low fat can be substituted but I have not tried it. How about you trying it out and letting us all know.

good luck

bhasin

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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BBhasin, I think all us Indians make it the way you explain.

Like your mother, I would rather use Yogurt or Buttermilk. And it does make a huge difference when making dessertss.

And yes phitkari was the choice of Halwais. I am told that is changing in the bigger cities.

I throw in several ice cubes (a lot) to stop the milk proteins from getting denatured and tough. This is a simple step that many do not do, and it makes all the difference in making your paneer soft and yet firm.

Torakris's method is new to us, but perhaps it works just as well.

BBhasin, I bring Dhotis (made of Muslin) from Khadi Gram Udyog in Delhi. I tear these to use as cheese cloths to make my paneer. Do you use Muslin or do you use Cheese cloth in the restaurant? Just curious...

In India, one can also buy Stainless Steel Paneer makers. A friend brought me one from India, I have never used it. Does anyone know how the paneer comes out?

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Suvir,

You are wiser way beyond your years!

I am just now phoning my sister in India to send me a stainless steel paneer maker. I keep dreaming of fabricating such a gadget and did not realise that one already existed.

thank you

bhasin

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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As I was the only one is the class who really had experience cooking Indian food (from books of course!), and everywhere I have seen instructions for making paneer, it always starts with the boiling of the milk.

Curious, I asked the instructor (an Indian restaurant owner in Japan) why he was boiling the vinegar first and he replied that it was faster. As I have never made paneer the other way (traditonal way) I think I am doing to do a side by side taste test and see.

Thanks for the tips on how to make it softer!

It is weird by by learning how to make cheese I feel like I have stepped into a whole new world of cooking that I have yet to explore! :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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As I was the only one is the class who really had experience cooking Indian food (from books of course!), and everywhere I have seen instructions for making paneer, it always starts with the boiling of the milk.

Curious, I asked the instructor (an Indian restaurant owner in Japan) why he was boiling the vinegar first and he replied that it was faster.  As I have never made paneer the other way (traditonal way) I think I am doing to do a side by side taste test and see.

Thanks for the tips on how to make it softer!

It is weird by by learning how to make cheese I feel like I have stepped into a whole new world of cooking that I have yet to explore! :biggrin:

Kristin San,

I would be very interested to learn the results of your side by side taste test.

bhasin

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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torakris, i think the posts above cover everything .... to add one - low fat milk does not work. atleast not the stuff you get in the US. not enough fat to form the curds, i think. good luck with your taste test.

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  • 2 years later...

I had some time this weekend, so I decided to make paneer because I had little else better to do and had a hankering for it. I should note that I have never curdled milk before, so I had no idea what to expect. Generally I am overly cautious regarding curdling of creamy substances.

Based on this thread and some other sources, I purchased half a gallon of whole milk, and a bunch of fat-laden whole yogurt (why is it so hard to find something that is not "lite" "low-fat" or "fat-free"!?). I heated about 2/3 a half gallon (I estimate) of the milk to a boil on medium to high heat. Once it foamed up I slowly began adding the yogurt. I wasn't getting any change though, just a few small curds here and there, but really very little. It still looked exactly like milk did, and I alternated between adding more yogurt, and letting it boil, hoping that one or the other would cause full-curdlage. Alas, it was not to be, and after at least a cup of yogurt and 20 minutes of boiling, I was getting nowhere. I knew something had gone wrong, but I decided to throw it in cheesecloth anyhow and let it hang, rinsing it with cold water. After about an hour I was left with about a marble's full of solids, complete failure. One message here says to use "sour yogurt", would this just be slightly old yogurt, or would it be manufactured in a different way? I assume it is not the same as sour cream, or is it?

On saturday when I was sitting around I decided to give it another try, and I had a lemon lying around. I expected to get better results this time, because I would guess that the lemon would cause a more violent reaction. I heated the remaining part of the half gallon to a boil, as before. I then slowly poured in some lemon juice, not much at all, maybe a teaspoon, stirring all the while. In about 10 seconds or so I understood what everyone meant by the milk "splitting". In the pan I was left with lots and lots of curds, resembling silky tofu lets say, and murky white water that was _very_ obviously water like. After another 10 seconds or so I dumped it into a dishtowel, clean of course, threw in a bunch of ice cubes, and tied it to my sink faucet to let it hang. After about an hour I removed it, and I had a good chunk of solid in the dishtowel. I was feeling pretty confident at this point. I put in on a cutting board and weighted it down with a heavy copper-bottomed pan. In my estimation it was just about the right weight, heavy, but not too heavy. In an hour I lifted it up and cleaned off the liquid on the cutting board, then weighed it again for another hour. In the end I was left with a nice chunk of cheesy goodness, maybe about a 5 inch diameter and 1 inch thick. It was pretty tasty, but though it was subtle, the lemon juice was definitely part of the flavor. I think if I were to fry it up or actually cook it with something it wouldn't be as distinguishable, but just eating (devouring, actually) plain it was noticeable. As others have stated, in a dessert it probably would not be exceptionally palatable.

Anyhow, just thought I'd post my experiences and ask a few questions.

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I rinse my curds as well. Quickly, though. And I don't ice them. I find that if the curds cool too much, they're not as cohesive when pressed. I press immediately when making block paneer. If I'm making crumbly unpressed dessert paneer, then I use ice.

Fresh milk is harder to curdle. More yogurt probably would have done the trick.

I can't eat 'raw' paneer. It's just too good fried.

Edited by scott123 (log)
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I rinse my curds as well.  Quickly, though.  And I don't ice them.  I find that if the curds cool too much, they're not as cohesive when pressed. I press immediately when making block paneer. If I'm making crumbly unpressed dessert paneer, then I use ice.

Fresh milk is harder to curdle. More yogurt probably would have done the trick.

I can't eat 'raw' paneer. It's just too good fried.

Hmmm, well my final result was definitely cohesive, but I will try to the cold water next time instead and see if I can tell the difference. Glad to know that more yogurt might have done the works, I can then safely assume that normal whole yogurt will do the trick if used in enough quantity?

I agree that fried paneer is better. I figure I can taste the nuances better eating it in a raw state though, and can then decide if I like the results, which should improve the fried version as well.

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Just a quick and probably stupid question, but how do you rinse the curds/

Do you pour them into a colander , rinse them and then place them in a cheesecloth?

Rinse with hot or cold water?

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I rinse my curds as well.  Quickly, though.  And I don't ice them.  I find that if the curds cool too much, they're not as cohesive when pressed. I press immediately when making block paneer. If I'm making crumbly unpressed dessert paneer, then I use ice.

Fresh milk is harder to curdle. More yogurt probably would have done the trick.

I can't eat 'raw' paneer. It's just too good fried.

Hmmm, well my final result was definitely cohesive, but I will try to the cold water next time instead and see if I can tell the difference. Glad to know that more yogurt might have done the works, I can then safely assume that normal whole yogurt will do the trick if used in enough quantity?

I agree that fried paneer is better. I figure I can taste the nuances better eating it in a raw state though, and can then decide if I like the results, which should improve the fried version as well.

I've tried icing/chilling the curds before pressing and although the result was cohesive when pressed, when I tried to cut it into cubes it fell apart. If the curds are still relatively hot when you press them, the result is much more dense/sliceable.

Chilled curds create air pockets which, in turn, help to create the illusion of a more tender paneer, but I think tenderness really comes from the form of coagulant, the amount used and the heat the curds are exposed to after they are formed.

Tough curds come from too much heat after the curds are formed or too much acid. This is why one should never follow a recipe when adding acid. It should always be just enough acid to precipitate the curds and no more. Once the curds form you want to get them drained as quickly as possible, as the hot water they're sitting in will continue to cook them.

I may be wrong on this, but when Suvir adds ice to his curds, I believe he's bringing down the temp quickly, but not that drastically. It relates more to preventing the curds from continuing to cook rather than chilling them before pressing. In other words, I think he's using the ice to bring the curds from very hot to just hot, rather than from hot to cool. You want to bring the temperature down enough so the curds stop cooking but not so far that they don't bond correctly.

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Just a quick and probably stupid question, but how do you rinse the curds/

Do you pour them into a colander , rinse them and then place them in a cheesecloth?

Rinse with hot or cold water?

My colander's holes are too big so I put the cheesecloth inside it, pour in the curds and then give it a spray with the faucet sprayer. As Chris mentioned, tepid sounds about right.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Regarding fried vs raw paneer, I find that cutting it into

cubes and toasting till golden in the broiler oven (broiler setting;

turn over to get all sides) is a great alternative: you get that

golden look without all the spitting and extra labour when

frying paneer.

Milagai

ps: I have Kerala towels (=thortha mundu) dedicated

for paneer. Just the right size and texture.

Edited by Milagai (log)
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  • 4 weeks later...

Hey!!

I tried to make some paneer yesterday, i used about 1/2 a gallon of milk (whole) and lime juice , but the one problem i had was that the paneer was not soft and the amount was very little ... compared to all that milk :hmmm: .. the paneer was pretty good after i cooked ... but then any idea how to mae those soft paneer ... if it happens by using yogurt ..could amebody give me the measurments .. Thank you All :smile:

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Hey!!

I tried to make some paneer yesterday, i used about 1/2 a gallon of milk (whole) and lime juice , but the one problem i had was that the paneer was not soft and the amount was very little ... compared to all that milk  :hmmm:  .. the paneer was pretty good after i cooked ... but then any idea how to mae those soft paneer ... if it happens by using yogurt ..could amebody give me the measurments .. Thank you All  :smile:

1/2 a gallon of milk will not yield much paneer.

Start with a full gallon of milk and you'll get a usable

amount.

Re soft paneer: after you make and compress the paneer

it will be somewhat hard. Before using in a sabzi, people usually

soak it in warm water or hot milk etc.

Not sure how to treat it before making sweets.

Milagai

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Hey!!

I tried to make some paneer yesterday, i used about 1/2 a gallon of milk (whole) and lime juice , but the one problem i had was that the paneer was not soft and the amount was very little ... compared to all that milk  :hmmm:  .. the paneer was pretty good after i cooked ... but then any idea how to mae those soft paneer ... if it happens by using yogurt ..could amebody give me the measurments .. Thank you All  :smile:

1/2 a gallon of milk will not yield much paneer.

Start with a full gallon of milk and you'll get a usable

amount.

Re soft paneer: after you make and compress the paneer

it will be somewhat hard. Before using in a sabzi, people usually

soak it in warm water or hot milk etc.

Not sure how to treat it before making sweets.

Milagai

My measurement is one gallon of milk and one quart of buttermilk. I believe by using buttermilk the paneer does turn out softer versus using lemon or vinegar. Also in order to make sweet you have to completely drain the water out by hanging the paneer in a cheese cloth for few hours. After that you need to knead it until it becomes extremely soft like a dough. Then you can make rasgulla, rasmalai or sandesh etc with it.

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  • 1 month later...
thanks ... the soaking in warm water really helped ... i shall try the buttermilk , milk thing the next time i make paneer....Leena

The first time I made paneer I tried using yogurt and it failed quite miserably, I'm sure due to my own fault. From there I went to vinegar which curdled easily, and lemon juice which worked quite well again. This time I went back to the gentler method and tried buttermilk.

1/2 gallon of whole milk

1/2 quart of fat-free buttermilk (Store only had fat-free. I like fat dammit.)

Brought milk to a boil over medium to medium-high heat, in a 3.5 quart saucepan. After a few minutes to get the fridge temperature off I began whisking gently. When the milk starts to foam and tries to get out of the pan, I began whisking in the buttermilk. I poured it pretty slowly, a little more quickly than I would pour oil into an emulsification. After about 1.5-1.75 cups the milk split quite readily, and I stopped pouring in the buttermilk and turned off the heat.

Previously I had set up cheesecloth (just plain cheesecloth, previously I have been using clean dishtowels) into a colander. I poured the contents of the pan into this cloth over a sink, and rinsed with cold water for about 10 seconds. I then tied this up and hung it to the sink faucet for about two hours. Next it was pressed gently by a few plates for about 3-4 hours.

The results are definitely my best yet. With the vinegar/lemon I could taste a slight tangyness when it was raw. Not unpleasant, just a little weird. This round lacked that. I'm very happy with the results, though making it this way is more expensive. It's still cheaper than store-bought paneer, at least at the indian grocer around here.

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