This month, we explore paneer and how to use it in your home cooking.
The origins of Paneer are not as commonly assumed in India. The soft cheese came instead to the Indian subcontinent through the Turks and the Persians who used to carry milk in containers made out of the stomachs of sheep, cows and at times camels. Once in these containers, the milk solids would separate from the watery part because of the rennet that was present in the stomach lining. The method that is used nowadays, which involves using lemon juice to curdle the milk, was introduced by the Portuguese.
- 200 grams sweetened condensed milk
- 100 grams Brown’s Paneer
- 125 mL Brown’s
- 1 tsp rose water
- a pinch of saffron
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- 12 shelled pistachios
- 12 shelled almonds
- Soak nuts in boiling water for 30 minutes. Peel skins and chop nuts finely.
- Grate paneer.
- Heat condensed milk, mascarpone and paneer, stirring constantly until it clumps and comes from the sides approximately 10 minutes.
- Add saffron and cardamom and stir a further 2 minutes
- Remove from heat and mix through rose water.
- Grease mould with ghee, and pour in mixture.
- Let cool, cut into desired shapes or roll into balls, sprinkle with nuts.
- Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for later.
We started making paneer about 4 years ago. Like most of our cheeses, it came to life because we wanted paneer for our home kitchen but didn’t have a grandmother around to to show us how.
Unlike other cheeses which use rennet for coagulation, its preparation includes heat coagulation of milk by adding either citric acid, vinegar, lemon juice or curd. To find out how to make Paneer, we approached an amazing Indian chef who was at the time visiting Ole Sereni to conduct training workshops. We did not speak the same language but in the end communicated through making cheese; it was great fun.
The challenge with paneer is that it is best eaten fresh on the same day it is made. Most Indian families will make it at home. Making one that would survive on the supermarket shelf is more challenging. If you do buy our paneer from the stores, you can always soften it by soaking in warm water for 10 minutes before use. You can then pretend you made it! Our paneer is made with part skim milk and is therefore low fat. It is also one of the only cheeses that does not have any salt added so is great for people with high blood pressure.
I feel that Paneer is an underutilised cheese as people think it can only be used for Indian cooking. You can add it to pancakes to get some protein into your kids or add it to eggs to increase their nutritional value.