India has its own type of cheese, known as Chhana or Paneer. It’s used in many popular dishes, both for entrees or desserts. We use chhana in curries like saag paneer or in Bengali desserts like roshogolla. This recipe will show you how to make your own, home-made channa. It’s easier than you think! The only special equipment you’ll need is a piece of cheesecloth.
Preparation time: 30 minutes.
Serving size: Enough for 8 regular size sweets or saag paneer for 4-6 people.
1 liter or 1 quart milk. You can use regular or pasteurized, 2% or lactose free milk.
1 lime or 1 lemon or 1/4 cup vinegar.
A large square of cheesecloth
The procedure has three steps:
1. First boil the milk
2. Then add lemon juice or vinegar to curdle the milk.
3. Finally strain the chhana from the liquid whey.
1. Line a colander with cheese cloth inside a sink. This is used to strain the chhana.
2. Slice a lime into 8 small pieces or if you plan to use vinegar then mix 1/4 cup Vinegar with 1/4 cup water. Set this aside.
3. Pour the milk in a large heavy bottomed pot
4. Turn on the heat.
5. Use a spoon to constantly stir the milk to prevent the milk from burning at the bottom.
6. Bring the milk to a boil.
7. Turn off the heat.
8. Squeeze the lemon juice & strain to keep the solid part out.
9. If you plan to use vinegar-water mixture, then add it in small batches into the milk.
10. Stir the milk slowly as the lemon juice is added.
11. Add the juice until the curdling is complete.
12. Turn off the heat.
13. Strain the chhana through the cheese cloth. The chhana will stay on the cloth.
14. Pour cold water onto the chhana. This process will wash away the lemon juice or vinegar and stop further hardening chhana.
15. Remove water by squeezing the cheesecloth.
16. If the chhana is to be used for making sweets, then let it sit for about 10 minutes before using. If it is to be used for cooking with vegetables, where the paneer cubes need to keep its shape, then drain out as much as water as possible by hanging the chhana in the cheese cloth for a longer period of time or by pressing it with a heavy utensil.