I have a recipie for Skewered Pumpkin (from India Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant). Basically it's grated pumpkin, paneer, onion, breadcrumbs and spices moulded into a sausage shape around a skewer and cooked over a grill or in a tandoor.

This calls for 300g of paneer. I do not have paneer but I do have low fat milk, plain yoghurt, cream cheese and also butter. Can I substitute the paneer with some combination of these?

Alternatively, will paneer work with if I try to make it from low-fat milk? Or does it rely on the milk fats? How much milk would I need to start with to finish with 300g of paneer?

I'm aware of How do you make paneer? so there is no need to repeat answers given there.

1 Answer 1


No, you can't substitute any of those for paneer. This should be pretty obvious given that you're trying to skewer and grill the paneer. It's a firm cheese that doesn't melt, while any combination of milk, yogurt, cream cheese, and butter will melt, if it's not liquid already. The best substitutes would be other cheeses like halloumi that don't melt, or else tofu. A firm cottage cheese would probably also do okay.

You also can't really use a cheese that melts in something like this. First of all, it just could never be the same texture, and the flavor would be a bit different too. But it could be worse than that. You didn't say exactly how much pumpkin, onion, and breadcrumbs you have in there, but generally, if you put a melting cheese in there, it's at best going to make the whole thing less solid and at worst it'll drip out as you grill it or conceivably even let it fall apart.

But you can indeed make paneer with the low fat milk, though. The texture just won't be quite as good - a little tougher, more dry and maybe even crumbly - since there's less fat and relatively more protein. With whole milk, 2L of milk makes ~350 grams of paneer, though that can of course vary depending on how well you drain/press it. Low fat milk won't have quite as high a yield, but you can probably still just start with 2L. The texture is probably the bigger problem. (And it'll of course be worse if your milk is 1% than if it's 2%.)

  • So cheddar might work then?
    – WW.
    Nov 2, 2013 at 3:18
  • @WW. No, cheddar, and most other cheeses you might have, will also melt. If you have halloumi, that'd work, and tofu is not that bad a substitute either. But you asked about substitutes from a restricted list. (I guess if the cheese is a really small fraction mixed into other stuff, it'd be okay - but still not anything like using paneer - but assuming it's substantial, anything that melts is just going to drip out. And you said 300g, so it sounds like it's substantial.)
    – Cascabel
    Nov 2, 2013 at 3:35
  • I thought the paneer was to provide fat. But I take it from the answers it's to hold it together. In the end I put an egg in and they were crumbly but still edible. I'll try again when I have all the ingredients and see what that's like.
    – WW.
    Nov 3, 2013 at 3:37
  • @WW. I think it's more just to provide bulk and flavor (some of which is fat, yes). I wouldn't actually expect it to make it hold together that much - it really doesn't melt much at all. Maybe this is a copy of the recipe? It does say the breadcrumbs are for binding. I'm surprised it was still crumbly with an egg; that suggests it'll always be crumbly.
    – Cascabel
    Nov 3, 2013 at 3:42
  • Yes, that is the recipie. I think I also left too much moisture in the pumpkin after cooking it. I ended up having to put extra breadcrumbs in because it was not holding together. They held together enough to cook, but only just.
    – WW.
    Nov 3, 2013 at 3:50

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