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I've seen the ingredient list of a brand of paneer with an ingredient list of: Milk, Citric Acid. Ok, so what is the process from there? I have a few specific questions:

  • What kind of milk do you need?
  • Can you use pasteurized & homogenized vitamin D milk (whole milk)?
  • Where do you get citric acid? I've seen some suggestions to use crushed children's aspirin. Is there a better, easily accessible source?
  • Are there regional variances in paneer? The paneer I am used to, and love, states that it's from the Rajasthan region of India.
  • How do you actually make it?
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4 Answers 4

up vote 19 down vote accepted

This is a recipe that we used for the concierge lounge when I was a chef in the main kitchen of the Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa:

Paneer

5 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Bring the milk to a boil, add the lemon juice so that the milk separates into the curds and whey.
Add a bit more lemon juice if necessary. Let set for approx. 5 mins.
Line a strainer with a cheesecloth and strain the milk.
Reserve the whey to use in curries instead of water.
Squeeze the excess whey out of the curd and fold the cloth around
the paneer to form a 4-inch square. Place the paneer on a
plate and place a heavy weight on top to squeeze out excess whey.
Leave for about 4 hours to set.

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  • Any kind of milk should be good.
  • Homogenized milk doesn't make any difference; you make curds because you add a food acid.
  • Citric acid is contained in lemons; you can also use vinegar, or even yogurt.
  • Paneer is typical of countries like India (northern India), Pakistan, and Bangladesh. All those countries use different methods to obtain paneer. For example, in some countries the curds are kept under a heavy weight for less time, and the paneer becomes fluffier.

I forgot the main question, which was how to make paneer.

  • Hot the milk, and add the food acid to make curds.
  • Dry the curds in cheesecloth, and press out the excess of liquid.
  • Put the paneer in chilled water for 1 − 2 hours.
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By food acid, I mean any acid that can be used with food; it excludes nitric acid, in example. :-) –  kiamlaluno Jul 23 '10 at 3:40
    
If you want some pictures, you can see my post cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/405/… for a link –  Pulse Jul 23 '10 at 5:25
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I use whole milk, which usually is vitamin D fortified. Ordinary whole milk also works. I bring about 2.5 litres ("liters" in the US) milk to a boil, switch off the flame, and then add about 2–3 tbsp ordinary vinegar. As soon as milk curdles, I pour the contents into a cheese cloth-lined colander. Next, I squeeze out all the water from the curdled solids and put a heavy weight on top of the paneer. The paneer is hard enough after about an hour.

Regarding queso fresco and queso blanco, they may be made like paneer, but they melt when heated, because they are not acid-set cheese.

I have tried substituting those two Mexican cheese varieties for paneer but the end result was not satisfactory.

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This question is old but I have a bit more information to add:

I agree with kiamlaluno that any milk will work. The more fat the more flavor of course. I often use powdered milk to make cheese because it's inexpensive and easier to store. If the cheese needs more flavor - like paneer or mozzarella then I will mix in a little cream.

Around here citric acid is readily available in upscale/organic grocery stores. It is, of course, easily had all over the internet.

Using buttermilk as the acidifier makes a paneer with a lot of depth of flavor. I highly recommend it.

Lastly- Mexican Queso Fresco or Queso Blanco is made with almost identical technique as paneer and can be substituted perfectly. Queso Blanco is found in any grocery store here in Texas and is only slightly more expensive than making it myself.

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Queso fresco and queso blanco are not acid-set cheese varieties, hence they tend to melt when heated. This is why neither is a good substitute for paneer. –  Avinash Bhat Apr 24 '11 at 14:47
    
@Avinash- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queso_blanco They are acid set and don't usually melt. I use them frequently as drop in replacements for paneer with perfect results. –  Sobachatina Apr 24 '11 at 18:05
    
I tried substituting queso blanco for paneer in a couple of dishes I tried. Queso blanco does melt when fried. Maybe it was this specific brand I tried, but I found that when heating in the sauce (palak of palak paneer, for example) the cheese retains its shape; however, when microwaved or fried, queso blanco melted, unlike paneer. –  Avinash Bhat Jun 4 '11 at 19:14
    
@Avinash- I'm sorry that you had a bad experience- I haven't tried frying them for an extended period of time. I simmer queso blanco in Rasmalai and saag paneer and it worked just fine. Additionally a quick google search shows dozens of people on the first page of results doing the same thing. Finally- you seem to be ignoring the fact that the only difference in the manufacturing of queso blanco and paneer is that in paneer the milk is brought to a boil. They are identical in every other respect. –  Sobachatina Jun 8 '11 at 20:57
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