How To Make Paneer (Ricotta Cheese) at Home


Paneer, also known as Ricotta or Cottage Cheese is a favorite ingredient in Indian cooking, and there's nothing like fresh homemade paneer! I have posted several paneer recipes on this blog, and over the course of time, a lot of my readers have reported that they live in regions where readymade paneer is not that accessible, and it'd be great to make it at home. Actually, making paneer at home is not such a big deal; its simple and does not require a lot of care or expertise! Plus, homemade paneer guarantees that you are eating something fresh, and its definitely a great resource for those who cannot find it in stores near them. So catering to popular demand, here's a simple recipe to make paneer at home.

I have adapted this recipe from ehow's article on How To Make Paneer and also Indira's post about homemade paneer. You need only two ingredients for this - whole milk and an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. The final quantity of paneer that you get would be about 15% of the weight of the milk you start with. So one liter of milk makes about 150 grams of cheese and a gallon of milk makes a little more than a pound. What you get after curdling the milk is cottage cheese or ricotta; when you press it and shape it like a bar, you would get the firmer version called "paneer", same as what you get in the indian grocery stores.

Ingredients (For 150 gms of paneer)
1 liter whole milk
1/2 lemon or lime - juiced, or 1-3 tsp vinegar
muslin cloth (or anything that's a bit thin)

If you are using 1 Gallon of milk, use juice from one whole lemon

Method
Bring the milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning or sticking.

When it comes to a boil, stir in the acid and cook for another 2-3 minutes; in a few minutes, you see small curds floating on top. Wait till they get bigger to form small stone-like granules, about five minutes. The solids will clump together (known as channa or curd) and the remaining liquid will become a thin watery white (known as whey).

Now turn off heat and allow to sit for a few minutes to cool.

Strain through the muslin cloth. When the liquid is mostly drained out, lift the cloth by the corners and twist to squeeze out remaining liquid. You can put the cloth with the paneer in it to sit on a colander over the sink for an hour or so till all excess water drips away. What you get at this stage is cottage cheese. If you let it sit for an additional 12 to 24 hrs at room temperature to develop acidity, and then cook it further you will be able to make ricotta cheese.

To make paneer, press the cloth-covered cheese under a 5kg (or anything heavy enough) weight for up to two hours. I folded the cloth around the cheese, then pressed it to shape like a rectangular bar, and put it between two heavy wooden cutting boards. Put something heavier on top of the cutting board to increase the weight. Leave it like this for a couple of hours.

This makes the paneer firm and hard. Now you can store it in an airtight box and refrigerate till ready to use. You can even cut it into cubes and store them.

Cooking with paneer
When you want to use the paneer, remove from fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 10 mins. Then you can slice it, shred it, grate it or cut it into desired shapes!

Now that you have homemade paneer, try some of these delicious paneer recipes:

Paneer Butter Masala
Savoury Paneer and Tomato Muffins
Spicy Chilli Paneer
Paneer Paratha(Stuffed Flatbread)
Rasgulla - Bengali Sweet


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27 comments :

glamah16 said...

You know I have seen this on a few blogs . I really have to make this. Thanks for the step by step. And I like it because not a lot of ingrediants are required.

katiez said...

I've always wanted to try this. Now I have the 2 things I need: the method (thank you) and access to fresh milk.
In Andorra we could only get long-life... That won't sour or curdle...it just rots...

Kalyn said...

Great post! Bookmarked!

jaya said...

these are really nice instructions, especially as you tell how much paneer we can make finally! just what i was looking for!! thank you very much!

-jaya

Mansi Desai said...

glamah - that's the beauty of paneer...just 2 things to make it and loads of wonderful recipes to use it in!:)

katie - that's really funny!: thanks for making me laugh, and i hope your "sour paneer" turns out nice!

jaya - you are most welcome, and I'm glad you liked this post! it was really long due!!:)

kamala said...

Nice instructions Mansi.Paneer looks perfect

Divya Vikram said...

Thanks for ur step by step instructions Mansi..

SMN said...

Thats a very nice read and nice instructions to make paneer at home. thanks manasi

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

Great one Mansi...I love paneer & we are fortunate enough to get it at every nook & corner here. Did you know that you can even flavour it mildly with chopped herbs etc if you like, & you now get a masala paneer variant here. I like it plain though. We also get a small round steel contraption like a sieve here which you can set paneer in. Ricotta is what we don't get here though...pity; will wait for a ricotta post from you!!

ANJALI J. said...

Hey thats a good entry..

Shobitha said...

Just a small correction, paneer is not ricotta cheese. Ricotta cheese is made from whey and not milk. It is similar to paneer.

Mansi Desai said...

thanks folks! I'm happy that everyone can cook with paneer now!:)

Shobita - I've explained in the post that the crumbled cheese that you get after separating curd from whey is ricotta or cottage cheese...after you harden it, it becomes paneer...hope that makes sense:)

Rosie said...

Great instructions Mansi thanks for sharing - this is so bookmarked!!

Rosie x

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Thanks for this. I've been wanting to make your paneer butter masala every since you posted it, but was a little worried I wouldn't find paneer. Although I learned you could find it at Whole Foods, the idea of making my own should the need (or desire) arise, intrigues me. This could be a fun project.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) said...

I am always intrigued when I read about paneer in Indian recipes and thanks to you, I can now make my own...

Kalai said...

You're so right about being confident in the freshness of paneer if you make it at home. You make it sound really simple, too! :)

Lisa said...

Considering I love paneer so much, it's a wonder I haven't made my own yet. Soon I will. Thanks for this post.

Anonymous said...

Hi
Your recipes look so yum.
Can I use homogenized milk instead,will that work too?

Mansi Desai said...

yes, you can use pasteurised homogenised milk, as long as its whole milk, meaning with substantial fat content; do not use fat-free or skim milk....you can use 2% milk and add 1 cup heavy whipping cream to increase fat content.

and thanks for appreciating the effort on this blog!:)

Kevin said...

I have been wanting to try making paneer for a while since I cannot find it locally.

Mansi Desai said...

kevin - you and several others emailed me about this and that's the reason I decided to post this recipe! I hope now you'll be making yummy paneer dishes more often after mastering homemade paneer technique!:)

PheMom said...

I'm going to have to try this. By the way, I've been meaning to tell you that your blog layout is great.

Marc @ norecipes said...

I've been looking for a place to buy Paneer. Now I don't have to. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Can I substitute "ricotta cheese" (available in the market) for paneer in indian dishes such as paneer butter masala or so?

Mansi said...

you could use Ricotta, but don't expect the same taste or texture as Paneer. Instead, I would suggest to buy ready-made Paneer from any Indian grocery store. YOu even get the paneer cubes, so that would be my first choice:)

Josselyne said...

Thanks for the instructions - I've made paneer here at home with lemon/milk and it forms perfectly - question for those of you with more experience: despite pressing the paneer down for a while, it seems that when I try to cut it (using a pizza cutter, and I've tried a sharper knife too) it crumbles way too much. It's also tended to fall apart a bit when I try to cook it in things like saag. Am I draining it too much, or ? Any ideas of how I can improve? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I used your recipe and it worked great! The paneer wasn't too crumbly and firmed up nicely in only 2.5 hours. Thanks for such good instructions. :)