Cooking with Fresh Cheese: Indian Paneer

Ingredient Spotlight

Paneer is the reason why many of us are addicted to dishes like palak paneer and shahi paneer korma. This fresh milk cheese is a true staple in Indian cooking, which is no surprise given how well it's mild flavor and chewy texture goes with spiced up curries. Do you ever cook with it?

Paneer is made by curdling warmed milk with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. The curds are then drained and pressed into a solid block. Paneer is a fresh cheese, like mozzarella or queso fresco, so it's ready to be used as soon as it's made and won't keep for more than a few days.

Because it's curdled with an acid instead of rennet, paneer doesn't melt when heated. (And it's also vegetarian!) Very fresh paneer that hasn't been pressed for very long tends to be more crumbly and is best for sauces. Very firm paneer can actually be sautéed, seared, or grilled, and still retain it's shape and texture.

Besides simmering it in a curry, cubes of paneer go well in grain salads, wraps, and stir-fries. In the summer, grilled skewers of paneer and vegetables make a fantastic and easy weeknight dinner.

Look for paneer in Indian markets or grocery stores with a good ethnic foods section. It's also very easy to make it at home with a carton of milk and some lemon juice. Take a look at this tutorial on making homemade paneer for the full instructions.

Here are a few recipes to inspire your cooking:

Saag Paneer from Steamy KitchenPaneer in Tomato Sauce from Leite's CulinariaKadhai Paneer (Stir-Fried Cheese and Peppers) from Serious EatsMatar Paneer from Indian SimmerIndian Style Grilled Vegetables with Paneer from Food & Wine

What do you cook with paneer?

Related: Make Cheese at Home: Fresh Buttermilk Cheese

(Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

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