Cottage cheese (commonly called Paneer in Hindi) is protein-rich and highly nutritious, and must be included in our daily diet. It becomes even more essential if you are a vegetarian.
Here I would like add, in terms of quality of protein, cottage cheese stands ahead of pulses (that are usually thought of as the only source of protein for vegetarians).
In Indian cooking, paneer has a very important place be it in spicy curries or delicious desserts like rassgulla and gulab-jamun.
I wonder though, it’s used so often in our kitchen, but we use store-bought, stale and preservative-laden paneer instead of fresh home-made paneer.
Frankly speaking, people don’t realize that making cottage cheese at home is so simple and easy that it can actually be made in lesser time and effort than making a cup of tea. Yes, I am not exaggerating. 🙂
Home-made paneer is good option for kids too who play tantrums in having milk – just like my daughter. I often make veggie-paneer, as she loves it and finish her portion within no time.
Ok, so below I have explained how you can make cottage cheese at home that too without any hassles.
- Milk: ½ liter
- Lemon juice: 2 tsp
Step 1 – Boil the milk in heavy bottom vessel.
Step 2 – Add lemon juice and stir. (You can use vinegar or citric acid but I like to use natural ingredients as much as possible). Even 1 tsp sour curd can be added I’m more in habit of using lemon juice. Once the milk curdles up, you will notice transparent slight green color water separated from milk.
Note – On cooling you will notice cottage cheese rests at the bottom of the vessel. Whereas, when it separated from milk it was floating on surface. So, don’t hurry in straining the water. Leaving paneer in water enables absorption of water, thus making it softer.
How to make Paneer Cubes?
- Hang the paneer (residue left after straining water) in muslin cloth for an hour. This will further drain the remaining water.
- Keep a flat heavy object on it for an hour in order to press it. This will give you flat paneer slab just like ready-made paneer.
- Cut it into small pieces and use it in way you want.
If you are storing in zip-lock pouch, just soak it in warm water for 10 minutes before cooking it. Soaking in warm water softens the cottage cheese.
½ liter of milk will give you approximately 125 gram of cottage cheese depends on the fat content in milk. More the fat content, higher will be content of cottage cheese from milk.
The liquid you’ll get after removing paneer is actually whey protein. It’s the highest quality protein with all essential amino acids present in it. The whey is also rich in water soluble vitamins, minerals, trace elements and electrolytes.
So, never ever discard away the left-over liquid assuming it to be a waste. Instead, this highly nutritive liquid should be used in cooking. You can keep this liquid for 1 – 2 days in refrigerator and use it in routine recipes.
You can add this in dal, soup or use it to knead dough for chapattis. Using it in dough gives very soft rotis/chappatis. But, remember that paneer-water kneaded dough should not be left to be used later. Otherwise, dough turns acidic will not taste good.
I sometimes add few drops of lemon juice, honey and make lemonade from it. It tastes refreshingly wonderful, especially in summers.
When kept at room temperature (instead of in refrigerator) this whey protein can be used next day to make paneer. It turns acidic, so you won’t need lemon juice or any other acid. Just pour this in boiling milk and milk will curdle up.
Apart from being simple, it’s also very cost-effective. ½ liter milk costs Rs 20 – 25, and from it you can extract approx 125 gm fresh paneer along with highly nutritive whey protein. Now, the same amount of paneer (without whey liquid) is available in market ranging from Rs 35 – 50. Isn’t it a very healthy cost-saving!
So, bhaili’s why not get into habit of using home-made fresh paneer instead of using stale and preservative-laden paneer/cottage cheese. Eat fresh and home-made to stay fit and healthy!