Also Known as
Cottage cheese, chenna
A vegetarian delight, paneer also known as cottage cheese is a soft, white, crumbly cheese which is used widely in continental, oriental and Indian cuisines. It's simple, fresh versatile flavour makes it a delicious addition to any recipe. Paneer can be made at home by boiling whole milk. An ingredient with acidic properties is added to coagulate the milk. The whey water formed is either discarded or used in various preparations and the cheese is harvested. This cheese is called chenna. The chenna is then pressed to form a block of cheese. This cheese block is called paneer. Paneer is a fresh cheese and is never aged. Since it contains no rennet, it is perfectly safe for vegetarians to have.
Paneer can be chopped with a sharp knife. Cut it into half and then chop the half portion into another half. Chop ingredients by cutting them in small pieces approximately ¼ inch in diameter, although the chopped food doesn't need to be exactly the same size. If the recipe calls for the ingredients to be "coarsely chopped," make the pieces slightly larger
Crumble the paneer with your hands. You can disintegrate them into big or small pieces as desired. Often used in stuffing parathas or to make Paneer Bhurji.
Paneer can be grated thinly or thickly using a grater as required by the recipe. Used in Parathas, Tikkis, Kheer etc.
Mash paneer with fingers to attain a rough, uneven texture. Mashed Paneer can be used to make soft balls either added to savoury or sweet preparation.
Dice or cube ingredients by cutting them into uniform strips. Line up the strips with your non-working hand and cut them into square pieces. Cube them as per the recipe's need regarding the size of the cubes, (for example, "cut into ½-inch cubes"). Small Cubes are wonderful addition to salads whereas large ones are used for veggies.
Cut down the paneer in half lengthwise. Place the flat side of one half paneer on the cutting board, using the knife make vertical cuts, at a right angle to the cutting board. Cut down through the rest of the paneer in similar manner of the desired thickness.
Slice using a sharp knife by cutting vertically across the cutting board. Slice them thinly or thickly as the recipe requirement, can used for making pakodas or sweet dishes.
How to Select
• Paneer is readily available in grocery stores in small and large packets, in cube form.
• Confirm the manufacturing date for maximum softness and freshness.
• It is also available in local dairy outlets, where it is freshly made everyday and sold as required. When buying paneer ensure that it is completely white in colour and that it is soft to touch, doesn't sport black spots, or is yellow in colour.
• Paneer is a versatile dairy product, it is used desserts, snacks or for main course cooking.
• Chilli paneer, paneer makhani, paneer pasanda, shahi paneer, palak paneer, paneer pakora or paneer bhurji are all made with paneer.
• Paneer kneaded in dough or paneer paratha is a very healthy breakfast option for all age groups.
• The cottage cheese is often used in curries since it absorbs flavours readily.
• When sliced into cubes and deep fried, the cheese tends to hold its shape very well.
• It can also be crumbled into a curry, taking advantage of the cheese's naturally crumbly nature.
• The paneer appears in desserts and as a filling for stuffed foods and breads as well.
How to Store
• Store the paneer in enough water in a container. The water has to be changed every 2 days, after which it can be refrigerated again.
• It stays fresh for a week when stored under these conditions.
• If it turns sour or has lost its softness, then place it in warm water for about 5 minutes before using.
• Paneer is both easy to make and digest.
• It is a rich storehouse of nutrients and is a popular item on the menu of both private dinners and public celebrations.
• Since paneer is a high-protein food, it must be included in meal plans.
• Paneer is a good source of calcium, which helps build strong bones and teeth, and also prevents osteoporosis.
• The advantage lies in the fact that it doesn't require too much oil, and if cooked right with herbs and minimal spices so it is not heavy on the digestive system either.