Lots of people buy paneer, but I still think that homemade paneer tastes the best. Making paneer from scratch takes time, but it is not labor intensive. It also involves lots of waiting, so you can get other things done in the meantime.
Whenever I am making a paneer dish, I make the paneer at least a day in advance. I also always have a bag or two of paneer in the freezer.
Serving: about 40 small cubes of paneer
- 4 cups regular milk (2% milk will also work)
- About 1.5 oz. of lemon juice
- Cheese cloth
- Optional: oil for frying
- Boil milk on low heat. Add about 1.5 oz of lemon juice to separate the curds (be careful not to put too much). Let cool for a few minutes.
- Place a cheese cloth inside of a strainer (one you might use for pasta). Pour curd mixture inside and drain out the water. Add water to pot to get out all of the curds.
- Wrap curds using the cheese cloth and hang it on something (Ex: a knob of a drawer) for about an hour to drain the curds completely.
- Use your hands to smoothen out the paneer for about 3-4 minutes.
- Then use the cloth to mold the paneer into a relatively flat rectangle, and wrap it completely in the cheese cloth.
- Place a few paper towels over the cloth and then place something heavy over the paneer. I usually use a pot filled with water. Let sit for about an hour.
- After one hour, cut the paneer into cubes. Note: some people stop at this step and use this form of paneer in their cooking. This is a healthier option, but the paneer tends to break easily, so I prefer cooking the paneer.
- Cook the paneer. Fry the paneer on medium heat (start with medium-high to make sure the oil is hot enough; fry until the paneer is light brown. Another option is to bake the paneer. You can use a non-stick pan sprayed with a non-stick spray (like Pam) and bake the paneer at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You will need to watch the paneer carefully, though, as it is easily burned. And make sure and flip the paneer over once it starts to brown.