Many years ago, when I was living in Canberra, I did a couple of courses in Indian vegetarian cooking with some friends. It was a fantastic experience, and I still use many of the ideas and recipes today.

As well as learning how to prepare many delicious Indian recipes, with a focus on healthy home-cooked meals rather than what you would find in a restaurant, I also learnt how easy it is to make your own flatbreads, grind your own spices, make chai tea from scratch, and the subject of this blog post - make homemade paneer (Indian cottage cheese).

We regularly use paneer in our version of palak paneer/saag paneer, a spinach/silverbeet and cottage cheese curry (see pic below). I've also used it in paneer makhani (a curry with a butter chicken style sauce). Both of these recipes use paneer when it has been set firm and cut into cubes, but it can also be used without setting, as looser curds, to make vegetable kofta.

Palak paneer (saag paneer)

Paneer is really quite easy to make at home, and much cheaper than buying it in stores. It just takes a little time and preparation. We usually make a double quantity for a curry to serve four people.

Homemade paneer

Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)

  • 1 litre full cream milk
  • 1 Tb fresh lemon/lime juice
(Note: you may need more than 1 Tb if using a low acid lemon or a squeeze bottle)
(Note: lemon juice gives the paneer a milder flavour than lime juice)

  • Heat the milk in a heavy-based pan. At the point of boil, add the lemon (or lime) juice, stirring continuously until the milk curdles (the whey should be almost clear).
  • Leave the milk on the heat for a further 30 seconds, then remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 10-15 minutes.
  • Strain through a muslin cloth or clean tea towel, and squeeze out all the whey (Note: don't discard the whey if you're making a curry, as it makes a flavourful alternative to stock).
  • The paneer can be used as loose curds at this stage, but if it needs to be set firm then put it under a weight (1-2 kg) for half an hour - we usually use the bowl of whey as the weight.
  • Remove the weight and cut the paneer into desired shape and size.

Paneer can also be used to make Indian sweets, in which case our teacher recommended using 1/4 tsp tartaric acid dissolved in 1 cup water rather than lemon or lime juice. I haven't tried this method yet.

P.S. I've also added this recipe to my Recipe Box page.