Paneer

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Paneer
Panir Paneer Indian cheese fresh.jpg
Paneer
Alternative names Chhana, chhena
Type Cheese
Place of origin South Asia and Middle East
Region or state South Asia and Middle East
Main ingredients Strained curdled Milk
Other information Rich source of Milk protein
Cookbook:Paneer  Paneer

Paneer (pronounced [pəniːr]) is a fresh cheese common in South Asian cuisine. It is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese or curd cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar, or any other food acids. Its crumbly and moist form is called chhena in eastern India.

Preparation[edit]

Paneer is prepared by adding food acid, such as lemon juice, vinegar, citric acid or yogurt,[1] to hot milk to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are drained in muslin or cheesecloth and the excess water is pressed out. The resulting paneer is dipped in chilled water for 2–3 hours which gives it a good texture and appearance. From this point, the preparation of paneer diverges based on its use and regional variation.

In most Nepalese cuisines, the curds are wrapped in cloth, placed under a heavy weight, such as a stone slab, for 2–3 hours, and then cut into cubes for use in curries. Pressing for a shorter time (approximately 20 minutes) results in a softer, fluffier cheese.

In Indian and Bengali cuisine, the curds are beaten or kneaded by hand into a dough-like consistency called ছানা sana in Assamese, ছানা chhana in Bengali, or ଛେନା chhena in Oriya, Maithili & Bihari. In these regions, sana/chhana/chhena is distinguished from ponir, a salty semi-hard cheese with a sharper flavor and high salt content. Hard ponir is typically eaten in slices at teatime with biscuits or various types of bread, or deep-fried in a light batter.

In the area surrounding the Gujarati city of Surat, surti paneer is made by draining the curds and ripening them in whey for 12 to 36 hours.

Dishes[edit]

Mattar paneer, a vegetarian dish from India
Saag paneer or palak paneer, a spinach-based curry dish

Dating back to ancient India,[2][3] paneer remains the most common type of cheese used in traditional South Asian cuisines. The use of paneer is more common in Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh due to the prominence of milk in their cuisine. It is sometimes wrapped in dough and deep-fried or served with either spinach (palak paneer) or peas (mattar paneer).

The well-known rasgulla features plain chhana beaten by hand and shaped into balls which are boiled in syrup. The sana / chhana / chhena used in such cases is manufactured by a slightly different procedure from paneer; it is drained but not pressed, so that some moisture is retained, which makes for a soft, malleable consistency. It may, however, be pressed slightly into small cubes and curried to form a dalna in Maithili,Oriya and Bengali cuisines.

Some paneer dishes include:

Fast food[edit]

Cubes of paneer in a salad served in an Indian restaurant in Mumbai

Most international fast food restaurants in India offer paneer. McDonalds India serves the McSpicy Paneer[4] and Paneer Wrap.[5] In the United Kingdom, Subway has started serving a saag paneer patty. Tamatanga (Urban Indian Cuisine) restaurant also serves a Paneer Wrap.[6] Taco Bell India serves the paneer and potato burrito.[7] Pizza Hut,[8] Dominos,[9] and Papa Johns[10] have pizzas with paneer toppings.

Similar cheeses[edit]

Anari, a fresh mild whey cheese produced in Cyprus, is very similar in taste and texture to fresh Indian Paneer.

Circassian cheese is produced using a similar method and is close in consistency to paneer. However it is usually salted.

Farmer cheese, dry curd cottage cheese, and firm versions of quark are similar except that they are made from cultured milk and may be salted.

Queso blanco or queso fresco are often recommended as substitutes in the Americas as they are more commercially available in many American markets. Both are generally salted, unlike paneer.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Adiraja Dasa. The Hare Krishna book of Vegetarian Cooking. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1989, ISBN 0-902677-07-1
  2. ^ World Food History- History of Cheese
  3. ^ My Bangalore-History of fromage (cheese)
  4. ^ "McDonald's launches McSpicy products". The Hindu. April 3, 2011. 
  5. ^ http://www.mcdonaldsindia.com/pdf/McSpicy-press-release-final.pdf
  6. ^ Mitra, Kushan (June 12, 2011). "Say (Cottage) Cheese: McDonalds paneer burger for the Indian palate". businesstoday.intoday.in. Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  7. ^ Place, Investor (March 30, 2011). "Taco Bell paneer and potato burritos are a hit". MSN. Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Pizza Hut India menu". 
  9. ^ "Dominos Peppy Paneer Pizza". 
  10. ^ "Papa Johns Pizza India menu".