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Easy Homemade Masala Paneer
Homemade Masala Paneer is one of my favorite recipes. A handful of herbs and spices are infused into the cheese to give it a wonderful flavour and colour.
I have used ground black pepper, ginger, chilli flakes, and fresh coriander leaves in my recipe.
Homemade Masala Paneer can be customized by adding your favourite herbs and spices.
The recipe I developed over the years produces a soft, squidgy cheese that crumbles beautifully on parathas, kulchas, samosas, and bhurjis.
How To Use Homemade Masala Paneer
For a melt-in-your-mouth texture, you can use it fresh or pan-fry it for a crispy, golden crust.
Additionally, it’s a delicious addition to Indo-Chinese dishes like Chilli Paneer and Paneer Manchurian.
How To Curdle Milk For Homemade Masala Paneer
My preference is to use lemon juice to curdle the milk. This can be either fresh or bottled lemon juice.
To curdle the milk, you can also use vinegar, citric acid, yoghurt, or even leftover whey from a previous batch of paneer. You will need the following quantities of each for 2.5L milk:
- 2 tbsp white vinegar mixed with 250ml water
- 1 tsp citric acid mixed with 250ml water
- 100g sour natural yoghurt whisked with 2 tbsp water
- 250ml sour whey
What Other Herbs And Spices Can I Add To Masala Paneer?
This recipe is highly customisable and can be transformed with just a few changes to the herbs and spices used. You can use these or create a new one of your choice. Here are some of my favourite Paneer flavour infusions:
My original Masala Paneer: Ground black pepper, ginger paste, chilli flakes, fresh coriander.
Indo-Chinese Masala Paneer: Chinese 5-spice, ginger paste, green chillies, chopped spring onion.
Mediterranean Masala Paneer: Sliced olives, chopped sundried tomatoes, garlic paste, dried oregano, fresh basil.
Tex-Mex: Smoked paprika, dried onion powder,ground cumin, chopped coriander.
Jamaican Jerk Masala Paneer: Ground allspice, dried garlic powder, dried thyme, chopped scotch bonnet chilli.
How To Make Soft Paneer From Scratch
This is a super common question and one I’m asked often. The solution is simple: Use milk with plenty of fat and curdle the milk slowly to prevent the curds from separating quickly.
- I prefer using fresh lime juice or curd instead ov citric acid or vinegar. It gives a more natural taste.
- Dilute the acid with water to encourage a slow separation.
- The last thing to remember is to ensure you don’t press it too hard. A small amount of moisture in the cheese will keep it squidgy.
- Ultimately, try to introduce temperature changes gradually.
- Simple changes you can make for softer paneer:
- Dilute the acid when using lemon, vinegar or citric acid to facilitate a gentle separation of curds and whey.
- Use high-fat milk (this will also improve yield).
- Rinse the cheese in warm water instead of cold.
The Best Homemade Masala Paneer: Troubleshooting
Help, My Milk Has Turned Sour And Curdled! What Do I Do?
I usually make homemade paneer when my milk turns sour. Then I just add a little lime juice/curd to the curdled milk to complete the procedure, but if you have spare milk at home and want to use it up, then you can do so by following the above instructions.
Which All Hebs Can I Use To Make Masala Paneer?
You can use any herb of your choice (solo or in combination) like Ground black pepper, ginger paste, ginger-garlic paste, chilli flakes, fresh coriander, fresh mint leaves, Chinese 5-spice, green chillies, chopped spring onion, sliced olives, chopped sundried tomatoes, garlic paste, dried oregano, fresh basil, ground allspice, dried garlic powder, dried thyme, chopped scotch bonnet chilli, Smoked paprika, dried onion powder, ground cumin, italian seasoning etc. We have give few combinations above to simplify it for you.
What Kind Of Milk Do I Need To Make Paneer?
You’ll need full-fat milk (at least 3% fat) produces good quality paneer. In order to get the best results, try to find milk that has been homogenized and processed the least. In overprocessed milk, curds may not form or may be small if it is overprocessed. The heating process that ensures long shelf life damages the milk’s proteins.
Do I Have To Use Lemon Juice In The Curdling Process?
No, you can also use vinegar, citric acid, yoghurt/curd or even leftover whey from a previous batch of paneer to curdle the milk. See my note above for quantities.
How Do I Stop The Milk Burning The Base Of The Pan?
Some people advocate a small amount of water in the bottom of the pan. I’m not one of those people, and that would only dilute our lovely full-fat milk. Instead, I prefer to rub the base of the pan with oil. Anything milk that burns will lift off easily once you’re done making the paneer. Don’t scrape the base of the pan when making paneer, as the burnt bits can lift off and leave your cheese speckled with burnt milk solids.
Can I Use Low-Fat Milk To Make Paneer?
You can, however, the yield will be much less depending on fat content and it may also be quite firm to eat.
Can I Use Cream To Make Paneer For Softer Paneer?
I would advice mixing both full-fat milk and cream (a 3:1 ratio). Using pure cream may be too fatty and may prevent the paneer from setting.
Can I Make Paneer From Spoiled Milk?
Yes. Simply bring it to the boil in a large, heavy-based pan and the sourness of the milk will cause a natural separation to occur. Strain the milk as directed in my recipe below.
Help! My Milk Won’t Curdle.
Add more of your chosen acid, e.g. lemon juice, little by little whilst stirring gently in a figure-of-eight motion. If the milk still doesn’t separate, your milk may be too processed/filtered to make paneer. Don’t worry, you can still use it as buttermilk for baking.
What Can I Do With Leftover Whey?
The possibilities are endless! Use it in sweet and savoury baking, particularly cake and bread baking. You can also use leftover whey for making Indian bread like roti, thepla, naan, paratha and bhatura. Or add it to your morning smoothies for a low-fat protein boost. Kadhi made with leftover whey is deliciously sour. Leftover whey can even be used to separate more milk for making paneer again. It’s super nutritious and versatile. Keep it bottled in a clean container for up to 2 weeks.
Can I Freeze Paneer?
Yes, of course! Ensure that the product is well-wrapped and freezes well for up to three months, before defrosting at room temperature and eating within 48 hours.
How Long Can I Keep Fresh Paneer In The Fridge?
This perfect homemade paneer will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days. Wrap it well to ensure it doesn’t dry out.
Easy Homemade Masala Paneer Recipe
The Homemade Masala Paneer. Soft and squidgy homemade masala paneer for curries, paratha fillings, chilli paneer, samosas and more. This simple recipe includes tips for making fresh masala paneer that tastes like it just came from the dairywala.
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Servings: 350 g
Author: Ranjeeta Nath Ghai
- 2.5 L full-fat milk at least 3% fat (ultra-filtered milk isn’t suitable for making Paneer/cottage cheese)
- 100 ml lemon juice/curd
- 250 ml water
- ¼ tsp any flavourless oil to grease the base of the pan
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp chilli flakes
- ½ tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tbsp freshly-chopped coriander
- In a bowl or jug, mix together the lemon juice and water.
- Use a kitchen towel dipped in oil to grease the base of the pan. This will stop the milk from burning on the bottom.
- Put the milk in the pan and heat it on a medium flame. Don’t stir the milk too much as we don’t want to create too much froth. Turn down the heat when the milk reaches a boil.
- Slowly add the lemon and water mixture and stir the milk very gently to disperse. Imagine gently drawing a figure of eight in the pan. If the milk isn’t curdling, add more of the lemon/curd and water mixture until it does.
- You’ll know the paneer is ready when the curds look like little white clouds floating the a yellow/green-ish water (whey).
- Line a colander or sieve with a clean muslin or cheesecloth. You can wet the cloth if isn’t sitting in the colander well. Place the colander over a large bowl to catch the drained whey.
- Drain the whey from the mixture by pouring it into the colander.
- Next, transfer the bundle of drained curds (along with the muslin) into a bowl while you pour the whey into another bowl or simply swap it with another bowl.
- The curds now need to be washed to remove any excess acidic flavour. Pour plenty of warm water over the cheese and agitate with a spoon to wash away the sourness. I use around 1L water for this process.
- Once washed, dissolve the salt in another 500ml warm water and pour this over the curds to season it. Sprinkle over the black pepper, chilli flakes, Italian seasoning and coriander. Mix well.
- Wrap the muslin over the top of the curds, as flat as you can get it. Press gently with your hands to drain off excess water.
- Place a flat plate over the top and weigh the curds down with something heavy (like a few tins of beans, a mortar or books) to drain off the remaining water and lightly set the paneer. The heavier the weight you apply, the firmer set your paneer will be. I like to apply a lightweight at this point so that I can mould it properly later.
- After an hour, the paneer is ready to use. It may be slightly crumbly. If you prefer a firmer set for cubing and slicing, either set in the fridge overnight or do as I do and mould it in a dish, tin or bowl with more pressing.
Optional step for moulding the paneer:
Transfer the lightly-set paneer to a small tin or ceramic/glass dish, about 12cm wide. Keep it in the muslin/cheesecloth for easier unmoulding later. Press the paneer in with the back of a spoon. It doesn’t matter of it breaks and crumbles as you’ll be pressing it again shortly. Wrap the paneer up with the muslin and apply more pressure with a plate and weight.
Pop the whole thing, plate and weight included in the fridge overnight to set. The next day your block of fresh paneer will be ready to cube and slice for all your favourite paneer recipes.
My preference is to use lemon juice or curd to curdle the milk. This can be either fresh or bottled lemon juice.
You can also use vinegar, citric acid, yoghurt or even leftover whey from a previous batch of paneer to curdle the milk.
Put a little weight on the paneer when you set it in a mould to set.
Do not drain out all the whey; else, it will become dry. Leave a little whey in the paneer to keep it soft and spongy.
They whey you get is very hgh in protein and is easily digestible. You can use it to kneed your flour, add it to rice to cook or add it in a soup.
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