One of the easiest cheeses to make, and the only one used in Indian cooking, paneer requires two ingredients: milk and an acid, such as lemon juice. I don’t use fat-free milk because the curd doesn’t hold up as well when the paneer forms. Unlike regular cheese, paneer doesn’t melt; it holds its shape when heated. You can crumble it and use it as a topping in salads, or add chunks to stews, or even roast cubes with vegetables for a salad.
Line a large colander with a double layer of cheesecloth, muslin, or another porous white cloth. In a large pot, bring the milk to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring the milk and scraping the bottom to prevent scalding. Stir in the lemon juice. The milk will curdle and separate (add a little more lemon juice if the milk has not completely curdled). Continue to boil for about 30 seconds, stirring slowly to prevent the large clumps from breaking up. Remove from the heat and pour the whey with the cheese through the lined colander. Hold under cold running water for 15 to 20 seconds to rinse out any traces of the lemon juice. Gather the edges of the cloth, tie them together, and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
Hang the cloth from the handle of a wooden spoon, and set the spoon over the colander. Allow the water to drain from the cheese for 1 hour at room temperature. To shape the paneer, place the drained cheese, still in the cloth, on a flat plate. Put a heavy weight, such as a Dutch oven, over the cheese. Let sit for 30 to 45 minutes; any excess water will be extruded and the cheese will be firm to the touch. Remove the paneer from the cloth, and cut and use as needed. Store the paneer, wrapped with plastic wrap in an airtight container, for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
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