Delicious food is probably the best way of pleasing the hearts of the people. No warrior in this world has ever succeeded in invading humanity like a luscious meal.
Even in our houses, food is the only thing that weaves through the hearts of the people and unites the family on a single table. Different people have different choices of food and every culture brings its own variety and taste in the world of food.
But there are some foods which delight the tongues of human to such an epitome that they have transcended all the threads and barriers of cultures and countries.
Paneer or the Indian Cheese is one such food item that hails from the roots of the Indian subcontinent. No matter to which continent you belong to, you must have taken its delicious taste once in your life.
What is Paneer?
Paneer is an integral part of traditional Indian cuisine and a common type of cheese.
It is a soft and freshly made cheese that does not melt and is mostly not preserved for longer times. It is also called Poneer, Fonir, Ponir, Channa or Chhena.
This delicious and creamy food item is known as Indian Cottage Cheese all over the world. Paneer is made by curdling of milk with lemon juice, yogurt (dahi), citric acid, vinegar, buttermilk, or other vegetable-derived acids.
The word ‘Paneer’ is known to be of Persian origin that means ‘cheese’ or ’milk product’. However, the original home of Paneer is a matter of debate for centuries.
Some people consider it of Persian or Afghan origin while many others seek its roots in the Vedic times of India.
There are several mentions of food items like Paneer in Vedic literature and Charak Samhita. However, no one knows which civilization was the source of the origin of Paneer.
Paneer is a rich source of carbohydrates, proteins, and calcium. It is used in various Indian dishes around the globe and has a huge demand everywhere. Whether you are preparing a starter, main course or dessert, for a party or any get-together, nothing can be completed without these magical white pieces.
How to make Paneer at home?
Many people are curious about how to prepare homemade Paneer or Indian Cheese. You will be happy to know that it can be easily prepared at home and there are no typical sciences and complex mathematics needed for it.
If you want to make Paneer at home, follow these simple steps. It will take about 30 minutes to make.
- Boil some milk in the pan on medium heat
- Once the milk is boiled, add a little quantity of curdling agent like lemon juice or vinegar in it.
- Once it has curdled properly, and the milk is separated, you will have to strain it in a separate bowl lined with a muslin cloth.
- Rinse it under fresh water to remove the flavors of curdling agents.
- Wrap the muslin cloth, & press the curds by placing a heavy object on it for a couple of hours to remove excess whey from it.
- Congratulations your homemade Paneer or Indian cottage cheese is ready.
- You can store the block of paneer and cut and use are required.
It is always a good option to make it at home instead of purchasing it from shops because store-bought ones consist of citric acid which can be harmful to your health. Additionally, preparing something ourselves, make it even tastier.
Homemade Paneer Nutritional Value
It is full of nutrition and its nutritional value is very high. Let us see it’s nutritional value:
Total Quantity: 100 gm
Protein –18.3 gm
Carbohydrate – 1.2 gm
Minerals – 2.6 gm
Fats – 20.8 gm
Calcium – 0.2 gm
Phosphorus – 0.13 gm
Energy – 265 Kcal
Calories – 98 calories (approx)
Health Benefits of Paneer
1). It is a rich source of protein and thus, it is ideal for vegetarians.
2). It fulfills your daily needs of calcium too. This helps your bones to grow faster and stronger.
3). The study shows that people who eat food rich in Vitamin D and calcium have fewer chances of being infected by breast cancer.
4). It is a highly-recommended food for pregnant women because of its nutritional value. However, you should consult your physician before use.
5). Phosphorus is necessary for the formation of DNA and RNA in our body and it is a rich source.
6). Eating it daily helps you to maintain blood sugar levels and lessens the risks of heart attack and psychiatric disorders.
7). It helps in improving the processes of digestion and excretion. Its Zinc content is helpful in improving the immune system.
Popular Paneer Recipe
1). Palak Paneer is a vegetarian dish made of Spinach and Paneer. It can be explored in the restaurants of Canada and the United States by the name of ‘Saag Paneer’.
2). Paneer Paratha is basically an Indian Paratha (Flatbread) stuffed with grated or crumbled cheese. It is extremely popular in India, especially in Punjab. You can find it in roadside eateries and in the menus of several restaurants.
3). Paneer Tikka Masala is a vegetarian alternative for Chicken Tikka Masala. It is basically served in spicy curry but it tastes marvelous.
4). Paneer Pakoda – This is probably the most delicious snack and is extremely popular in Punjab. So, do enjoy this deep-fried, crispy snack once in your lifetime.
5). Kadai Paneer is a spicy recipe with tomato gravy. The fresh spices will leave a mouth-watering effect on you.
6). Paneer Masala is a delicious and easy to make curry recipe. And, yes, it is different from Paneer Tikka Masala.
Is it the same as Tofu?
The striking resemblance in the looks of Paneer and Tofu makes lots of people think that they both are the same, however, they are two different food items. Following table shows the difference between them:-
Paneer vs. Tofu
|It is prepared from the milk of animals like cow, goat, and buffalo and thus, it is an animal protein.||Tofu is prepared from soy milk and thus, it is a plant protein.|
|It is very soft and creamy with high-fat content.||It is not as soft but has low-fat content.|
|It is a rich source of Calcium.||It is a rich source of Iron.|
|It is a high-calorie food and thus, not recommended while dieting.||It is extremely low-calorie food and thus, it can be eaten while on a diet.|
“Does Tofu and Paneer taste the same?” This is the instant question that comes in our mind after reading this.
They are quite similar in taste and you can use tofu as a good option to replace Paneer in dishes if Paneer is not available for you.
Other Alternatives to Paneer
There are many types of cheese that are similar to Paneer in many ways.
-Queso Blanco is a popular cheese in North and South America and is prepared in the same way as, but its taste is a bit salty when compared to Paneer.
-Anari cheese of Cyprus and Circassian cheese of North Caucasus are some other names.
-While making Indian dishes, if you don’t have Paneer, you can also use Farmer’s cheese, Ricotta Salata and Halloumi Cheddar.
But you should always keep in mind that a substitution cannot replace the original.
Paneer is known around the globe as the gift of the Indian subcontinent. Its popularity among the food lovers and the epitome of fruition, it brings in our meal, does not require any explanation.
There is no dearth of delicious recipes made of Paneer and they are equally popular in India and South Asian countries. After all, no matter to which country you belong, you cannot enjoy the real taste of Indian food without its soul, i.e. Paneer.