Paneer is one of the most versatile ingredients in Indian cooking. It is called Indian cottage cheese in English. Paneer is used to make curries like palak paneer, matar paneer, appetizers, paneer paratha, and even desserts like rasgulla, rasmalai, cham cham, and kalakand.
Paneer can be made at home easily in the instant pot or cook top. It is made from milk and an acidic agent (citric acid or acetic acid).
When milk is heated and citric acid or acetic acid is added, it separates into milk solids and a liquid. The milk solids make the paneer and the liquid is called whey.
What is paneer made of?
Paneer can be made at home with only 2 ingredients - milk and vinegar. Lime juice can also be used instead of vinegar.
I prefer using vinegar over lime juice (to avoid a lot of squeezing). Lime juice may introduce a few of its fiber which may be difficult to rinse off. So I try to keep it simple and use vinegar.
It is best to use pasteurized full cream milk to get a good yield of paneer. Ultra-pasteurized milk does not work well for making paneer.
How to make paneer in instant pot?
Instant Pot has simplified making paneer at home to a great extent as there is no need to monitor the milk while it gets boiled.
The instant pot "Yogurt" cycle, when pressed a few times, will show "Boil". This setting is used to boil the milk with the valve in the 'seal' position. Once the milk is boiled, open the lid, add and stir in the vinegar.
It is important to stir in the vinegar to ensure all of the milk splits. The milk solids will get separated in a few minutes.
Wrap the Paneer in cheesecloth and put additional pressure or small weight over it to further squeeze out the excess water to make it more firm. Refrigerate the paneer to make it more firm.
What can I do with whey from paneer?
Do not discard the whey. It can be used to make homemade bread like white bread, french bread or even dough for pizza. You can also use the whey to make Indian bread - roti, puri, or naan. Whey can also be used to make pasta sauce or used in soup.
How do you store homemade paneer?
Once all water is squeezed out, the paneer is ready for use and can be refrigerated for about 4-5 days. Paneer can also be frozen for up to a month.
When you are ready to use frozen paneer, just put it in the fridge overnight to thaw it or allow it to come to room temperature.
How to use paneer?
Paneer can be used to make a variety of curries, our family favorite is veg paneer wraps. Some yummy delicious desserts like rasgulla, rasmalai, cham cham, and kalakand are made using paneer and easily made in the instant pot.
Don't forget to check out these paneer recipes
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Instant Pot Paneer
- ½ gallon milk full cream milk or whole milk
- 4 tbsp vinegar
- Pour ½ gallon milk in Instant pot container and close the lid.
- Select the "Yogurt" cycle till it shows "Boil"
- Once the milk is boiled, the instant pot will show "Yogurt". Select "Cancel".
- Add and stir vinegar to the milk and let it stand for 5-10 minutes. The whey and milk solids will get separated.
- Rinse the milk solids thoroughly under cold running water until all sourness of vinegar is gone.
- Press the paneer using a spoon to squeeze out all excess water until it is firm.
- Additionally, wrap the paneer in cheese cloth and apply some weight for 1-2 hours to squeeze out excess water and to make it firm.
- Paneer is ready for use.
- Taste the paneer after rinsing with water to ensure all sourness from vinegar is gone.
- If there is excess water after squeezing, cover the paneer with a cheesecloth and put some weight on it. Let it rest for about an hour or two to drain out any excess water.
- Paneer can be refrigerated for 4-5 days.