How to make fresh homemade Paneer ( Indian Cottage Cheese)
Paneer also very commonly known as Indian Cottage Cheese, Chhana or chhena. It’s a star ingredient in most Indian dishes and liked by many …at least in my household. Paneer is easily now a days found in your local supermarket or grocery stores ….but where’s the fun there? When it can easily be made fresh right at home. It requires only a few ingredients; milk, lemon juice, a pot, a strainer and cheesecloth and you have fresh homemade paneer.
The best part of paneer is that it can be eaten right away, it requires no aging or culturing and once the paneer (cheese) has set it can be added to your favorite curry or sweet dish. Normally, many make paneer using whole milk, but I’ve had great success many times making it with 2% milk.
It’s much more difficult to make paneer using skim or non-fat milk since there is not enough fat left in the milk to separate into curds and whey. The only down side of this cheese is that it won’t last very long in the fridge when it’s freshly made, so if you don’t plan to use it up within a week then make sure you definitely have plans what to do. Personally, I only make what is need at the time but, in case I have left over I wrap it up with clear cling wrap and place it in a Ziploc bag and place in the cheese drawer inside my fridge.
Paneer is absolutely delicious, but the best part of making homemade paneer is that the yellowish water from the curdled milk known as “WHEY” is super healthy and has some amazing usage. Many may not know that whey is also considered to be rich in protein and may also help build muscle strength and boost the immune system.
With all these great health benefits why would we want to throw out the leftover water (whey) from making Paneer. Let me share with some great ways of using up whey and preparing healthy delicious dishes. Whey can used to make Chapati (roti) or in any paratha flour just substitute water with whey water. Add whey water to any fruit juice to start off the day, add it to any gravy which can be substituted for tomatoes or tamarind. It can also be used for cooking rice or baking purpose just substitute water with leftover whey. Another great way to use whey is simply add the water (whey) when preparing food to keep the nutrients intact and also make the food more nutritious.
Paneer Bhurji Sandwich ..is a combination of three different peppers (green, yellow and red), mushroom, onion, garlic, spices, flavoring and the show stopper “Paneer” (chhena or Fresh Cheese) and bread. Commonly, Paneer Bhurji is a subzi that many eat with roti, naan, paratha or on its own.
I was trying to think of an easy, quick but tasty lunchbox idea for my husband and son. That’s when this idea came to me ….I had already in my chopper finely chopped all the colorful peppers, onion and garlic. Sliced up mushrooms and finely chopped green onion (green’s and white). To that I decided to add in Crumbled Paneer ….since my son loves it and mix it up with light spices and transform it into a sandwich and grill it !
There are many variations when making bhurji. Some people like to make it with eggs, matter (peas) and other vegetables. Ideally, it’s made for breakfast or lunch since it’s quick and easy to make. I like to make this Bhurji and serve it up as a “Paratha”, “Sandwich”, “Frankie/Wrap”.
1 1/2 cups - finely chopped mixed Peppers (your choice green,red,yellow or orange) mix a little of all peppers.
6 pcs - Mushrooms thinly sliced
1 medium Red Onion - finely chopped
4-5 Springs of Green Onion - finely chopped greens & whites
2 cloves garlic - grated
1 1/2 cups - Crumbled Paneer (chhena)
3-4 Springs of Coriander leaves - finely Chopped
1 tbsp- Oil
1/2 tsp. - Cumin Seeds (jeera)
1 tsp. Red Chili powder
1/2 tsp. Tumeric Powder
1 tbsp - Frankie Masala (I used Bombay Magic Brand which is available at Indian Grocery Stores)
Salt to taste
Your choice of bread ... I used light Rye Bread
Heat Oil in skillet on medium high. Once oil hot add in Jeera and sauté for 30 seconds. Then add in chopped onion and garlic. Sauté for 2 mins till onions turn pinkish.
Then add in all of the finely chopped peppers, green onion and mushrooms; mix well and let it cook for 3-4 mins.
Add in all of the dry spices, salt to taste and mix well. Let it cook for 2 mins; stir occasionally to avoid spices from burning. Turn heat to medium low.
Then add in the crumbled Paneer and finely chopped Coriander leaves and give it good mix and let it cook for another minute. ***do a final taste test now and adjust the spices/ salt to your liking***
Keep Paneer Bhurji mixture to the side to cool off a bit before assembling the sandwich.
Take two slices of bread. Spread your choice of butter or margarine on both slices. Take a generous amount of Paneer Bhurji Mixture and spread even all over one side of bread slice and cover it with the other slice.
Heat stove top grill or fry pan (tawa). Once hot place sandwich carefully on it and press down light with a flipper. Repeat other side.
Serve hot as is or with your choice of sauce / chutney or ketchup.