How to make [Organic and Fat Free] Paneer at home?

Fat Free Homemade Paneer

It is a myth that low calorie or fat free food is tasteless or lacks  soul in it. All you need is some patience to experiment with low calorie ingredients or simply follow a fool-proof recipe to create a lip-smacking dish.  I kick started my experiment with low or fat free ingredients after I went on a South Beach Diet.

Most of us make Paneer at home using Lemon, Vinegar, Sour Whey or  a combination of these to curdle milk. I was doing the same until I read in a cook book about using yogurt to achieve the same results. Using yogurt sounded like a brilliant idea to me because you can completely avoid the flavor of lime or vinegar in paneer. And being on SBD, I wanted to ensure that I get a soft yet delicious paneer with Fat Free Milk. After many attempts using various acid ingredient I was able to create a winner recipe in my kitchen.

I am not sure how you like your paneer but to me a perfect Paneer must be soft and not very chewy.  At the same time it should not crumble while you cut them into cubes. Since I was able to taste paneer made from different ingredients, I was able to make a peace with this recipe.

It is not only that you are eating home made food you can also save money and still eat organic cheese. Isn’t that good?

How it tasted?

I made  Paneer Quinoa Pilaf with one half of the homemade fat free paneer and popular Mattar Paneer curry with other half. It so happened that we had a surprise guest few days ago and he tasted Mattar Paneer with phulkas. Initially he didn’t believe it was home made and fat free. Yeah, It tasted good and I knew then it is Winner recipe :)

These are some of the variations I tried before I came up with this recipe :

Ingredients/Taste & Texture

1. Lemon juice  – Soft but I got the sourness and the flavor of lemon

2. Vinegar – Chewy and it was not sour.

3. Lemon juice + Vinegar – Chewy. It was not sour and did not taste the flavor of lemon

4. Vinegar + Yogurt – Chewy

5. Yogurt + Lemon juice  – Soft and absolutely did not taste lemony

6. Yogurt  – ? ( I am not sure how this will turn out and am yet to try this. But I have seen few people using only yogurt).

Update: I was not very successful using Yogurt. It could be due to the fact that I used store bought yogurt which is not usually sour.

7. Sour Whey –   ?

Will update the results for #6 in next couple of weeks.  If you have tried the #6 and #7 please let me know your results.

Disclaimer: These results are as per my taste buds and it was tested with fat free milk.

(Makes 180 gms of Paneer approx)

Ingredients

(All the below mentioned ingredients are Organic)

  • Milk (Fat Free, Organic) – 1/2 U.S gallon /1.8 litre / 8 cup
  • Yogurt/Curd (Fat Free Plain) – 1/4 cup
  • Fresh Lemon juice – 1 1/2 tbsp + more as required

Other : Muslin Cloth or Cheese Cloth

Method

  • Use a thick/heavy bottom stock pot to boil milk.
  • To avoid burning, keep stirring frequently.
  • Once the milk starts boiling (around 212 F), remove it from heat.
  • Add yogurt and stir to initiate the curdle process.
  • Add 1/2 tbsp lemon juice at a time, stir. Keep watching the curdling process. Add more lemon juice as required or until the milk curdles and separates from whey. Now you will have two components – Cheese/Chenna and Whey.
  • In a large bowl,  place a cheese cloth/muslin cloth to cover and slightly push it in the center to form a well. If you are not comfortable, place the cheese cloth over a strainer.
  • Slowly pour the curdled milk. You will see that the Chenna/Cheese settling down over the cloth.
  • Bring all the sides of the cloth together and tie it. Quickly wash chenna in running water. This will help to remove any lemon flavor.
  • Now hang it on your cabinet or the kitchen faucets and place the bowl to collect whey.
  • Gently squeeze it to remove any excess water. You got to be cautious when doing this as it is usually hot.
  • After 20 minutes shape the chenna in to a circle,  square or whichever shape you like your paneer to be.  Please do not remove it from cheesecloth while doing this.
  • Keep a chopping board or a flat plate and place the tied cheese cloth on top of it. Now place 1 or more heavy vessels or any thing that is heavier enough to press the paneer. I have used the bowl that I used to collect way and a heavy skillet. You can use your pestle and mortar,  cast iron skillet,  a huge box of rice or anything that is available at home.
  • After 30 minutes, unwrap the cheese cloth and viola you  have a home made fat free and organic paneer to relish.

Notes

Add only 1/2 tbsp lemon juice at a time. Stir. Add more if  milk has not curdled properly. This will ensure that you don’t pour more than what is needed and hence control the flavor of lemon.

Remove from heat after the milk reaches its boiling point (around 212 F). This will help the milk from burning.

Do not throw away the whey (Liquid that you obtain after your strain cheese). You can replace them instead of water while kneading dough or in soups, stews and curries. You can even create your next batch of paneer with sour whey.

You can place paneer in a zip lock bag and refrigerate upto 1 week. Otherwise, you can freeze them and use it need per basis. If you are planning to freeze I would recommend to cut them into cubes and then freeze. So that you don’t have to thaw the entire block of paneer.

Update: Add ice cubes after the milk curdles. It becomes easier to handle paneer and stops the cooking process of milk. Thanks Sandhya for letting me know about this tip from VahreVah.com.

Variations

  • You can add 1/8 tsp salt if required.
  • You can avoid lemon juice and use yogurt only. Then double or triple the quantity of yogurt.
  • You can replace Fat Free milk with 2% or whole milk as per your choice.
  • If you don’t use Organic products please use the ingredients available at home.

A glimpse from my kitchen

Home Made Paneer

  • Use a thick/heavy bottom stock pot to boil milk. To avoid burning, keep stirring frequently. Once the milk starts boiling  (around 212 F), remove it from heat.

    Homemade Paneer

  • Add yogurt and stir to initiate the curdle process.

    Homemade Paneer

  • Add 1/2 tbsp lemon juice at a time, stir. Keep watching the curdling process. Add more lemon juice as required or until the milk curdles and separates from whey. Now you will have two components – Cheese/Chenna and Whey.

Home made Paneer

  • In a large bowl,  place a cheese cloth/muslin cloth to cover and slightly push it in the center to form a well. If you are not comfortable, place the cheese cloth over a strainer. If you are using cheese cloth fold it once.

Homemade Paneer

  • Slowly pour the curdled milk. You will see that the Chenna/Cheese settling down over the cloth.

Homemade Paneer

  • Bring all the sides of the cloth together and tie it.

Fat Free Homemade Paneer

  • Quickly wash chenna in running water. This will help to remove any lemon flavor.

Homemade Paneer

  • Now hang it on your cabinet or the kitchen faucets and place the bowl to collect whey.

Homemade Paneer

  • Gently squeeze it to remove any excess water. You got to be cautious when doing this as it is usually hot.
  • After 20 minutes shape the chenna in to a circle,  square or whichever shape you like your paneer to be.  Please do not remove it from cheesecloth while doing this.
  • Keep a chopping board or a flat plate and place the tied cheese cloth on top of it. Now place 1 or more heavy vessels or any thing that is heavier enough to press the paneer. I have used the bowl that I used to collect way and a heavy skillet. You can use your pestle and mortar,  cast iron skillet,  a huge box of rice or anything that is available at home.

  • After 30 minutes, unwrap the cheese cloth and viola you  have a home made fat free and organic paneer to relish.

Fat Free Home made Paneer

  • You can place paneer in a zip lock bag and refrigerate upto 1 week. Otherwise, you can freeze them and use it need per basis. If you are planning to freeze I would recommend to cut them into cubes and then freeze. So that you don’t have to thaw the entire block of paneer.

Homemade Paneer

You are awesome!!! Thanks a bunch for leaving your valuable comment. It certainly makes me happy and helps me to learn and improve.

Leave a Reply

  1. Absolutely lovely…
    This is a nice post.. as I did make an attempt to make paneer from scratch.. for rasgula’s ..
    tried vinegar + water option & lemon juice+water option.
    Yup .. i would say it was a bit chewy… I have one tip for u I got from Vah re Vah , add ice cubes as soon as whey separates from cheese.. and it stops the process then and thr… I found it effective..

    BTW radhika… your site takes quite a lot of time to load.. very surprising :(

    Have a great weekend!!

    • Thanks for that tip Sandhya. I think that is a great idea to use ice cubes. It will be easier to handle them then. Not sure why it takes long time, I will look into it. Thanks again for letting me know about this problem.

  2. Radhika,

    Nice post, I tried making paneer with lemon juice. I need to try with lemon yogurt combo. From fat free milk we can paneer new info i will try.

  3. wow..thats def a great post. I remember teaching how to make quesa blanca (spanish name for cottage cheese) in one of my Food chemistry classes and we did use a couple of combinations from your list Radhika…Wonderful…

    Love
    KS

  4. I seriously have to try it…..i can avoid teh guilt of having full fat paneer as well…very nice post….i am book marking it…

  5. Wow! you had me with just the topic of the post :-)
    I’ve tried making paneer at home several times but I don’t know what goes wrong and where. Your step by step photograph gives me some idea on how it should really look like. Will give it a try again and if it comes out great will definitely thank you. Then :-)

  6. I use fat free milk but never used yogurt. Have to give this a go, for after the lemon I usually give the paneer a wash which usually gets rid of the lemony flavor in it. Thanks!

  7. I too really want to try paneer at home,I prefer with curd, the first time I tried I got crumbly paneer,think I was not patient enough to give time for turning it stiff! Thanks for the *really* informative post RV :)

  8. My mom makes paneer with just yogurt. It comes out soft and just wonderful + she says the quantity is more than when using citrus acid (not surprising that!).. I stay in the US and the yogurt we get here is not acidic enough to cause the fat coagulation unless you get the “desi” yogurt from Indian stores. I find using the yellow lemon juice does not leave much of a flavor in the paneer as long as you add it slowly and stop as soon as curdling begins…

  9. This is just unbelievable Radhika! I love paneer but avoid it for obvious reasons. I had read somewhere that using yogurt to curdle milk helps in making softer paneer. Now that we have tried,tested and successfully made soft paneer with fat free milk, I am definitely gonna try this ASAP. Thanks for sharing this!! And I was delighted to find a recipe for making low fat khoya too.

  10. Will try this method Radhika. I have always had different experience with Paneer as well. I use Lemon+ vinegar which good but not great. Should try lemon + yogurt. I think paneer turns out different for different people using different milk in different countries. Like In India making Paneer with just lemon used to work greatly for me. I guess it differs with the freshness of milk, the type of acidity in the vinegar or yogurt or the citrus, etc. Thanks for the idea will let u knw how this one turns out!

    http://www.journeykitchen.com

  11. Thanks for this! I’ve only made a soft cheese once, and have only had paneer once — purhased from a local market that specializes in Indian products. I think it was frozen! I appreciate all your experimentation and look forward to trying this :)

  12. Good job Radhika! – you can’t beat fresh paneer – it’s such a simple fresh cheese. I haven’t used it in my baking just yet but plan too. Have you tried using using non-fat milk? you mentioned it but I was curious as to how that turned out. Thanks for sharing your method!

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  14. Thanks! I just made this earlier this week for the first time and I LOVE it! I used some yogurt and some lemon juice together. It was so easy. I appreciate all the various ways you have tried it, it is interesting to see the variations. I had used whole milk so I’m glad to see it works with low fat too! Thanks!

  15. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Radhika! I’m glad to have discovered your blog too! You’ve got a number of interesting recipes and I love your section on photography. Your pics are gorgeous.

    As for the paneer, I had no clue that it could be made with fat-free milk. Paneer – here I come!

  16. amazing! thanks for sharing. I usually make mine with lime juice and do get the sour taste. sometimes even a light yellow colour!
    hope to try this soon.

  17. Great article…but may I please know what kind of yogurt did you use…greek or regular…full, low or no fat…there is just such a variety of yogurt available in the market that one has to ask this question…hope you reply soon, cos i can not wait to try this method at home…Cheers Gauri…

  18. Dear Maam , This is my first visit to your site ….Love at first sight .Will be coming back to try out all your wonderful recipes .Thanx a Ton . Take care , With Regards , maya

  19. Hello
    This is the first time i have heard of this cheese!
    How interesting.
    Will you please tell me in what kind of recipes it is used?
    Thanks
    Sandra

    • Hi Sandra,

      This cheese is predominantly used in Indian cooking to make curry, kebabs and Tikka. You can grate and replace it with any other cheese in sandwich, burrito, burger etc., Moreover you can add flavors to it as well.

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  21. Oh, my. I have never made paneer before. This tastes so delicious! Next I will try my hand at using it in palak paneer … Thank you, Radhika!

  22. Very impressed by the systematic and painstaking manner of explaining each step with photographs.Thanks v much

  23. Been using this recipe every week for over an year. Its absolutely amazing. Thanks Radhika !

    btw, I didn’t feel the need to add ice cubes – sounds like giving a shock to the paneer :) and still get soft and cubed paneer. Also, I use whole milk as I don’t feel the need to cut the good fat of milk plus hubby/kiddo eat the same.

  24. Thank you for an awesome recipe. I have been in the US for 9 years and have finally gotten sick of store bought paneer. Especially now that I want my daughter to eat it.

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