Perfect paneer

Cottage cheese is known the world over. It is among the most basic of English or American foods and an ordinary component of a meal in France or Greece. But the Indian version, known as paneer, is just a little bit different. Similar to ricotta, it adds not just dairy but a delightful hint of tang to any dish. Making your own paneer, the Indian version of cottage cheese, can be a challenge, but a fun one at that.


1 q milk (whole cow's milk)
1⁄2 T vinegar
2 t water


  1. Pour the milk into a saucepan. Bring slowly to a boil, taking care not to brown the liquid. To avoid that, stir continuously.
  2. Add the vinegar while still simmering, stir then turn off heat and cover. Alternatively, remove from heat and add the vinegar, stir well and cover for a few minutes. The milk should begin to curdle into chunks and will end up separated into curds and whey.
  3. Line a colander with clean muslin. Drain the soupy mass through the muslin cloth over the sink. Then gather the edges and hold the ball over cold running water for a minute. Squeeze out the excess water. Fold the muslin with the cheese still inside and form into a squarish slab.
  4. Place the muslin sack on a clean carving board. Place a heavy object on it to squeeze all liquid out. Pressure should be applied for at least 2-3 hours at room temperature; some recommend 8 hours.
  5. Dice into 1 inch (2.5 cm) chunks.
Total time
4 hours
Cooking time
Preparation time
4 servings


Pressure completes the process and that can be applied in any of a number of ways. One good way is to use a flexible plastic bowl placed on top of the sack, pressed down by a heavy brick. For those who wish to have one around, a cheese press can be purchased.

Lemon juice can be used instead of vinegar. It will give a different, citrusy flavor. It is best to shallow fry paneer chunks before adding to the recipe.

The important thing, of course, is how you use paneer to liven up your Indian-style meals. One simple way to do that is by preparing palak paneer, a type of spinach curry. For a great barbecue idea, try some paneer kebabs.

For more ideas, see all the recipes with paneer as an ingredient.

moderate, healthy
Dairy, meatless main course
Indian food recipes