What Should You Know About Paneer
If you happen to be a lover of Indian food such as myself, you may be familiar with the food paneer. If you have never heard of this Indian cuisine before, fear not, you have stumbled upon the perfect blog. Today I am going to discuss with you all things Paneer. We are going to cover a myriad of questions. Basically, by the end of this blog, you will be able to define paneer if anyone ever asks you what it is. I guarantee you are going to be a professional on all things about this Indian cheese. If this is starting to make your mouth water, I suggest you keep reading because we are just getting started.
What Is Paneer?
So what is it? Paneer is known to be a fresh cheese originating in India. It can be found in other cultural cuisines, but will most commonly be found in Indian cuisine. I referred to this cheese as a fresh one because it is not aged like other cheeses. Rather than making the cheese with the use of rennet or bacteria, paneer is made with two simple ingredients: whole milk and lemon juice. How is paneer made? As just stated, all that is required to successfully make paneer at home in your own kitchen is whole milk and lemon juice. To make this fresh cheese, you will bring your whole milk to a boil on the stove top. Once boiling, you will then add your lemon juice to the milk. The combination of these two ingredients should cause a layer to form on the top of the milk and cause the milk to curdle. Once you have your curdled milk, you will pour your milk into a cheesecloth. What will happen during this stage is pretty straight forward. The cheese curds will separate from the liquid, which is actually the whey from the whole milk. After pouring your cheese through the cheesecloth, you will let your cheese hang over the sink for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, you will take your cheesecloth once again, straining any of the excess whey from the cheese curd substance. After the final strain, you will allow your cheese to cool in the fridge. And there you have it, a very simple cheese that will taste fresh in a variety of dishes.
Now let’s talk about some common dishes where you will find paneer cheese as well as different ways this cheese can be cooked. One of the most common dishes it is used in is called Palak Paneer or spinach curry. Paneer doesn’t melt therefore holds its shape in nice-sized cubes amidst a sea of creamy spinach goodness. So if you ever find yourself in the absurd situation where you are describing to someone what is this Indian cheese, remember Palak Paneer as there is a high chance that they may have heard of this dish before. Yes, it is true that paneer cheese holds its shape well whilst in dishes, but it also has the ability to crumble, similarly to feta cheese. Adding it to any dish this way will give a level of richness you didn’t know you could ever achieve. It can also be added to any curry in the same manner. If you are craving curry, I recommend adding this cheese into the mix and letting it change your life. An exciting thing about paneer is that it can be used in nontraditional Indian dishes as well. An example of this would be adding it into your chili. Nothing would taste better than scooping up hot beans and paneer onto a nice crumbly piece of cornbread. What kind of cheese is paneer if it can only be used in main dishes? It wouldn’t be cheese! Why not try creating some appetizers with it? A common appetizer that can be found at Indian restaurants is Paneer Tikka – essentially Indian cheese on a skewer which has been grilled to perfection. I know, it doesn’t get much better than this. Last on our list of possible dishes is called Paneer Popcorn. This is a perfect way to serve paneer to children if you have them. Paneer Popcorn has simply battered cheese that has been fried to golden perfection. My mouth is watering, how about you?
Let’s Talk Health
With all this talk about cheesy goodness, I’m sure most of you reading this are asking the same questions aloud or in your mind. Is paneer healthy? Is it gluten-free? Is paneer good for you? Is paneer vegan? Well, let me clarify some of these questions for you so you can find peace with the paneer definition. As mentioned earlier, it is composed of whole milk and lemon juice, so you no longer need to wonder what this cheese is made from. As we all know, whole milk is not the milk you want to be pouring into your cereal bowl every morning as it is higher in fat. As a matter of fact, it is as fatty as milk comes. The word fat may scare some of you away, but I want to remind you that fat is essential to the human body. If you are going to get fat from anywhere, allow it to be from your paneer cheese. So yes, paneer cheese is definitely higher in fat, but if you are going to consume cheese, I would opt for paneer. Due to the fact that paneer has such simple ingredients, it is in fact gluten-free. Yes, all of my celiac readers, paneer is perfect for you and your lifestyle and diet restrictions. Unfortunately, to any of my vegan readers out there, paneer cheese is not for you. Being made from whole milk, it is obvious as to why this cuisine is not vegan. However, because this cheese does not include the use of rennet or bacteria in its creation process, it is suitable for all vegetarians which is a bonus. So, is paneer cheese the healthiest of options when it comes to food consumption? Probably not. Do I still recommend you try paneer cheese at least once and bask in all of its deliciousness? Absolutely. And hey, if paneer is an everyday staple in your diet, I say more power to you. Let’s eat our food based on taste and how it impacts our mental health rather than getting so caught up in the macronutrients in everything we consume. Eat what makes you feel your best is all I have to say.
If after reading all of that you are still finding yourself asking the question what this cheese is, then I’m not sure what more I can tell you. It is no longer necessary to wonder if it is good for health or bad for health because we already covered all things health when it comes to this Indian cheese. You no longer need to ponder how you can incorporate paneer into your dishes as we also covered that. We covered how to form paneer cheese from the comfort of your own home if you ever find yourself feeling so inclined to do so. We have truly covered absolutely everything important and everything you need to know about this kind of cheese. I think what I will do now is leave you with a task. Your task is that you use paneer cheese in one of your next dishes. Whether you are cooking for yourself, for friends, or for your family, you must give this cheese a go! I promise you will not regret diving headfirst into this amazing Indian cuisine. In my opinion, Indian food is one of the best cultural foods I have ever immersed myself in and I am certain my life is better because of it. So go for it, try out paneer!
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