How to make paneer, or Indian cheese with just milk and lemon juice

How to make paneer with just two ingredients

by rich on May 9, 2010

Making cheese has always seemed difficult and outside of my capabilities, something best left to other people who know what they’re doing.

Like the French.

If you think that, this recipe could change your view.  Paneer is a type of Indian cheese that’s used as the protein element of several classic vegetarian dishes from the sub-continent.  It’s very soft and fresh, and doesn’t need  pressing or aging in the same way that hard cheeses do.

Paneer has a very mild taste indeed.  It’s best thought of as a blank canvas for a wealth of Indian spices.  The cheese bursts into life when you combine it with cumin, coriander, turmeric and the like, soaking up their flavours.

Most importantly, though, it’s easy to make.  Embarrassingly so.

All you need is one litre of whole milk, which you should bring to the boil in a large pan.  Once just about at boiling point, squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the milk, turn the heat right down and keep stirring.

The acidic lemon juice will cause the milk to curdle and split, gradually separating int curds and whey.

When the separation is complete, drain the curds in a sieve lined with a piece of muslin or a cheese cloth, then draw the ends of the cloth together, tie them with string and hang the bundle over a bowl to drain for a couple of hours.  A few gentle squeezes will help it along a little.

When the cheese has completely drained, mould it into a flat-ish patty, still wrapped in the muslin, and sandwich it between two plates.  Rest something heavy, like a bag of flour, on top.  Place the whole lot in the fridge and leave to the cheese to firm up for a few hours or overnight.

That’s it.  You’ve made cheese.  Granted, it’s cheese in its most basic form, but it’s still cheese.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

goodshoeday May 9, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I made this too recently. Its brilliant and so much better than the boingy stuff you can buy in the supermarket. I've also tried making fresh curd cheese with different milks all are very good and nice with herbs or in omelettes (and just on their own too). Am hoping to experiment with harder cheese soon.

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rich May 9, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I think this might be the first of a few different cheeses. I'm working my way up to a mozzarella…

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Ellen Arnison May 9, 2010 at 3:38 pm

This looks brilliant. I'd never even have considered making cheese, but you make it sound so do-able. Thanks.

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Kavey May 9, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Mum makes home-made paneer. Very tasty!

Lots of recipes for dishes featuring paneer on her website, if you are interested. (Mamta's Kitchen).

I love shahi paneer, paneer tikka and paneer sag. Mmmm!

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abraham May 9, 2010 at 4:19 pm

lovely… only few weeks back i started regularly making it at home. you may also please visit me for a range of starters, main course and desserts made from Indian Cheese
rgds
abraham

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Maunika May 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Love paneer. Its the best veggie option in Indian food. I dont think alot people realise how easy it is to make it. My mother used to add coriander or dry roast cumin to the curd mix whilst putting it in a muslin. Tastes amazing.

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Cleo Coyle May 9, 2010 at 5:22 pm

My Italian grandmother would make basic cheese in her kitchen, not unlike this. I love paneer and never realized how easy it would be to make a basic version. Also love Maunika's comment above on adding spices! Thank you for the inspiration. :)

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Belinda @zomppa May 10, 2010 at 3:44 am

REALLY? You're inspiring me to give this a go (love the cheese on the chair).

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katja May 11, 2010 at 4:39 am

This is a very inspiring post-thanks!

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Janna McNeil May 11, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Very cool! I was reading a recipe yesterday that called for paneer and I had no idea what it was. Thanks for sharing.

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Springrime May 11, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Wow – you make it sound so easy!

I've been really wanting to try to make cheese and also butter. But after my rather feeble attempt at making basic yoghurt – I've left other dairy product well alone. But I think I may have to have a go at this.

Does it matter if the milk if pasteurised?

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redkathy May 12, 2010 at 2:10 am

Oh my this is too easy… Cheese is the number one favorite food for my family. Well my son and myself anyway. Thank you so much for sharing this, I am definitely going to try this. Oh, and since we have a puppy I suppose I should put the chair on top of the table, right :)

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rich May 12, 2010 at 6:51 am

Yes, you should. There are kids scampering around our house, which is why my chair ended up on the table. You have the same problem, just a different species.

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Monet May 12, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I adore your blog…thank you for adding me on foodbuzz…the simplicity of your site is admirable! This is a great idea, and I can't wait to give it a shot. Thank you for sharing!

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Lisa Avant May 13, 2010 at 1:43 am

I have always love Paneer! Never knew how to make it though. I'm so excited to have found this. Thanks!

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Liam O'Malley May 19, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Is that all that Paneer is? No need for any rennet or anything? Wow – super easy.

Don't be afraid of the mozzarella! It is pretty much an identical process but you need rennet. Same goes for goat cheese, too. They're all super easy and extremely tasty when homemade.

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rich May 19, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I've just bought some rennet…mozzarella up next!

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Katie May 22, 2010 at 9:18 pm

I made this and it worked yay thanks!

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Loren December 5, 2010 at 6:39 am

Great post. I'll have to give this a try. I've been exprimenting with diferent cheese, from fresh one like Queso Fresco and Mozerella and tried a hard aged cheese – Montasio that turned out well.
Thanks for sharing.
~Loren

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Maninas October 27, 2013 at 9:49 pm

I’ve recently been taught how to make this by a Punjabi friend – loved it! Totally different from the hard shop-bought version, and with a fresher lighter flavour. I haven’t bothered to shape it into a patty, but used in crumbled.

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