How to make paneer (low fat) 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

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