Panir is a wonderfully simple to make fresh, soft cheese that can be used very much like tofu. I’ve been surprised that panir isn’t more popular in the United States. It has a creamier texture and lightly sweet, satisfying taste that lends itself well to not only Indian dishes, but curries, satay and anywhere else you might use tofu. And unlike tofu, panir is ridiculously easy to make at home. When I have a milk cow, I see myself making panir weekly! We enjoy cooking with panir so much, that I forgot to take a final photo before dicing it up and making Mung Beans with Panir Cheese from the cookbook The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi.
To start you’ll need the following:
- A large crock pot, with a heavy bottom (the biggest pot you’ve got!)
- A wooden spoon
- Cheese cloth
- 1 gallon of either raw or whole milk (we find the quality of raw milk is better and we get more panir – but if raw milk is not available, then whole milk works just fine)
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
Directions (yields approximately 18-20 oz of panir).
- Pour the milk into the pot and set the stove to high.
- Bring the milk to a full, frothy boil, stirring constantly to avoid scorching or burning (this is REALLY important).
- When the milk comes to a full boil (you’ll know this, as the milk will swiftly foam up and rise) drizzle in the lemon juice and oh so slow and gentle, stir the milk in one direction.
- After about 15 seconds, remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring gently until you see the curds start to form.
- Once the curds start to form, cover the pot and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Line a colander with 4 thickness of cheese cloth (making sure the cloth is large enough to drape around all of the sides).
- Spoon out the larger curds into the colander and then gently pour out the remaining whey into the colander to capture any smaller bits of the cheese (if you want to save the whey, place the colander over a large bowl or pot – we feed ours to our chickens)
- Gather up the corners of the cheese cloth and twist to form a ball with the panir. Rinse under lukewarm water for a few seconds to remove any lemon juice.
- The panir will need to drain for another hour or two to set and compress. You can either do this by hanging the cheese above the sink or by returning the panir to the colander and then weighing it down with a bowl filled with water. I prefer the second method.
- Let the panir rest for an hour or two.
- Use the panir in your favorite recipe or wrap and store up to 4 days in the fridge (I’ve always immediately used the cheese myself).
Photos: All photos mine except first photo (because I was too hungry to remember to take a photo of the finish product!)