Freshly made paneer is incomparable. Homemade makes it really the best available option. See how the paneer is porous and so soft that it can bend and take a new shape while it is still hot. I took this picture while the paneer was still hot. Just pick up a cube a eat it to believe how different and how much better it is from the store bought paneer.
You can make paneer within 20 minutes time if you need about 200 gm of paneer. This time is mostly the time required to bring one Liter of 3% milk to boil. After that it takes only about 2 minutes to curdle and then 2 more minutes to strain the whey and get the paneer. That is just about 5 minutes of your time when your hands will be engaged into real work. The time when the milk is brought to boil, can always be used to do other chores in the kitchen.
To make paneer, bring the milk to boil but watch the milk as soon as a thin layer of fat starts accumulating on top and starts making wrinkles and bubbles from the sides.The temperature should be around 90-95 C if you are using a milk thermometer. The curdling of milk at this temperature results in softer and more porous paneer as the milk solids coagulate slowly. The acid (lemon juice or vinegar) is also added slowly so the curdling is slow. Keep stirring the curdling milk so you can see the whey separating and know when it is ready to pass through the colander.
1 liter of 3% milk
2 tbsp of white vinegar or Lime juice or 3 tbsp of sour yogurt diluted with a little water
a deep bowl shaped sieve or muslin lined colander
If the temperature is too hot or the acid (vinegar, lime juice or yogurt) is added too quickly, the milk solids coagulate quickly, leaving no pores and the paneer turns hard. So take care to let the paneer curdle slowly, taking about a minute's time and then pour the contents of the pan through a muslin lined colander. I use a steel sieve which can be fitted on another pan to drain the whey.
The contents of the pan are emptied into the sieve, the coagulated milk solids (paneer) is propped up in the middle, if it has spread all across the sieve or colander, and then it is tossed once and turned upside down so you get an almost smooth finish even when you are making a small quantity. For larger quantity you always get smooth finish as the weight of the paneer made, makes sure it gets smooth by the force of gravity.
The paneer can be transferred to a bowl if making a small quantity, to make sure it takes a shape that can be cut into nice cubes. It will keep releasing some whey and does not need to be hung to drip. Just take out form the bowl and cut it into pieces of desired size and shape.
Or mash and knead to make Rasgulle.
How about making some fresh palak paneer?
For that I would steam spinach while the milk boils, puree it nicely, add butter and salt n pepper to the green puree and then mix with paneer when it is ready and simmer for a couple of minutes. Quick and tasty meal is ready.
And do not waste the whey. It is a great source of proteins so use it to knead dough, make pancake batters or use it o make soups or drink it as it is. It is a great mild laxative that nourishes your gut as well. Making paneer at home has double benefits you see.
Have you been scared of making paneer at home? Did this post help you?
Please do write to me if it did.