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Monday, June 26, 2017

Paneer - Pressure Cooker Version

Paneer is a fresh cheese made by splitting milk into milk solids and whey water. This is the same method used to make Ricotta cheese and essentially they are the same. The main difference is that the store bought paneer is usually packed tightly and is in the form of a nicely shaped brick and can be grated or cut like any other cheese. This can be easily cut into pieces and these pieces can be fried without them melting. Store bought ricotta cheese has water content in it and melts easily. So, the water content of the final paneer that you make at home depends largely on how you plan to use it.

When the water is drained completely, it can be kneaded and shaped into a compact shape which can be cut into cubes. These can then be directly added or pan fried and then added to gravies/curries and these will not melt. If however water content remains in the paneer and it is molded into cubes, these will eventually melt when you cook them and will not hold up as cubes in the curry.

I had thus far always made paneer by boiling milk in an open saucepan and once it started to get to a boil, I used to add lemon juice or diluted vinegar to it to split the milk into paneer and whey. This method is detailed here. I decided to try making paneer in the cooker. I used diluted white vinegar as the acidic agent mixed in with the milk.  And it was just perfect.

Milk doesn't spill over when heated in the Instant Pot and anyway by the time the milk comes to a boil, it is already split and so there is no chance of boiling over even in a stove top pressure cooker.  In fact when I heated just milk under pressure in my Instant Pot, it was just perfect when I opened it up, even though there was no agent to split it up. It had not risen up in the inner pot and there had been no spewing over the top. Of course I had filled it only half way.


Ingredients
whole milk (see method for quantities)
vinegar - 1/4 cup diluted with 3/4 cup water ( I use white vinegar)


Method

Instant Pot (IP)
If using an IP, again, do not fill it more than 1/2 of the inner pot capacity. I use about 5 cups of milk. To this add the vinegar solution and close the lid. Close the vent and cook it in manual mode for 1 minutes on High Pressure. [I had earlier used the timing of 3 minutes but when I remade it, I set the timer to 1 minute and found that the paneer and whey had separated completely even with this lower timing. The paneer was softer too.]

Let the pressure release naturally and then open the lid. Or NPR for 10 minutes and then release the rest of the pressure by switching to vent. The paneer and whey will be separated.






Pressure cooker
If using a pressure cooker, make sure not to fill the cooker with more milk than 1/2 of the capacity of the cooker (this includes the volume of the added vinegar). It is preferable to keep it to 1/3rd at max to prevent any spraying from the top when the pressure is released (via the whistle mechanism). Add the vinegar water to this. You can also add lemon juice or yogurt (yogurt and lemon juice may not be as tart and could be ineffective if enough quantity is not added). I find vinegar to be the most reliable acidic agent. Heat it on medium high heat till it reaches pressure, then let it cook for a minute or two and  take it off the heat, let the pressure settle and open up to find the paneer and whey separated.

Molding the paneer
Drain the paneer using a linen cloth, rinse it with cold water, and then drain the water. Rinsing it in cold water helps to lessen the effect of vinegar and washed away any taste of the vinegar. Keep some weight on the paneer to drain all the water. Then knead it as it is usually granular to give it a smooth texture which will make it look like store bought paneer. If you know you are going to  use it to make savory dishes, you can add salt to the paneer at the kneading stage so that it is not bland. If you plan to use it to make sweets, do not add salt.
Then pat the kneaded paneer into a flat disc/flat rectangle and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours or more to firm up. You can also wrap it up in cling wrap.

Your paneer is ready. It can now be cut up into cubes or grated like cheese.

Tips
The whey water should be clear and has a greenish tinge. That is an indication that all the milk solids have separated out. If not, heat it up, and add a little more of the acidic agent to the milk. Make sure to use more quantity of yogurt or lemon juice (if using these as these are not as acidic or tart as vinegar. Do not dilute these).

I got about 180 gms/6.4 oz of paneer from 5.5 cups (approx 1/3 gallon) of whole milk (cow's).
You can use lower fat content milk to make paneer as well, but as the fat content reduces, the quantity of paneer extracted will reduce and the texture will also change and can be a slightly rubbery compared to the one extracted from whole milk. You can also use half and half to boost the fat content of the paneer.

Paneer is made the same way as Ricotta Cheese. When all the water is drained, then the paneer cubes will remain as cubes in gravies or curries. Before draining the water, you have ricotta cheese and this will melt. If water content remains in the molded paneer cubes, the paneer will disintegrate and melt into the gravy.

The longer you cook the milk solids in the whey water the tougher they get, so if you release the pressure after natural pressure release for a few minutes, you will get paneer with a softer texture.

7 comments:

  1. Hey when are you going to post mawa ?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Like the video. But please make font bigger. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Glad that it was helpful. Will update it with a bigger font for easier viewing on handheld devices.

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    2. Thank you! Have not tried making paneer in IP but will try now for sure

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  3. Thank you! Really helpful. Have not tried making paneer in IP but will try it now for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the recipe. What do you do with the whey? Feel bad to throw it away

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can add the whey water to gravies, to knead dough to make chapatis, add to the raw rice when making pulao. To be able to use the whey water try to use the minimum amount of vinegar, so that they whey is not so sour that it cannot be used in other preparations.

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