Place of origin
|South Asia and Middle East|
Region or state
|South Asia and Middle East|
|Strained curdled Milk|
|Rich source of Milk protein|
Paneer (Punjabi: ਪਨੀਰ; Hindi and Nepali पनीर panīr; Armenian: Պանիր panir; Urdu: پنير; Kurdish: پەنییر penîr; Persian: پنير panir; Turkish peynir;) is a fresh cheese common in South Asian cuisine. In northern parts of the Indian Subcontinent, it is generally called Chhena. It is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese or curd cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar, or any other food acids.
To prepare paneer, food acid (usually lemon juice, vinegar, citric acid or yogurt) is added to hot milk to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are drained in muslin or cheesecloth and the excess water is pressed out. The resulting paneer is dipped in chilled water for 2–3 hours to give it a good texture and appearance.
From this point, the preparation of paneer diverges based on its use and regional variation.
In most Nepalese cuisines, the curds are wrapped in cloth and placed under a heavy weight, such as a stone slab, for 2–3 hours, and then cut into cubes for use in curries. Pressing for a shorter time (approximately 20 minutes) results in a softer, fluffier cheese.
In Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine, the curds are beaten or kneaded by hand into a dough-like consistency called ছানা sana in Assamese, ছানা chhana in Bengali, or ଛେନା chhena in Oriya, Maithili & Bihari. In these regions, sana/chhana/chhena is distinguished from ponir, a salty semi-hard cheese with a sharper flavor and high salt content. Hard ponir is typically eaten in slices at teatime with biscuits or various types of bread, or deep-fried in a light batter.
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Dating back to ancient India, paneer remains the most common type of cheese used in traditional South Asian cuisines. The use of paneer is more common in Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh due to the prominence of milk in their cuisine. It is sometimes wrapped in dough and deep-fried or served with either spinach (palak paneer) or peas (mattar paneer).
The well-known rasgulla features plain chhana beaten by hand and shaped into balls which are soaked in syrup. The sana / chhana / chhena used in such cases is manufactured by a slightly different procedure from paneer; it is drained but not pressed, so that some moisture is retained, which makes for a soft, malleable consistency. It may, however, be pressed slightly into small cubes and curried to form a dalna in Maithili,Oriya and Bengali cuisines.
Some paneer dishes include:
- Mattar paneer (paneer with peas)
- Saag paneer
- Shahi paneer (paneer cooked in a rich, Mughlai curry)
- Paneer tikka (a vegetarian version of chicken tikka, paneer placed on skewers and roasted)
- Paneer tikka masala
- Kadai paneer
- Chili paneer (with spicy chilies, onions and green peppers, usually served dry and garnished with spring onions)
- Paneer pakora (paneer fritters)
- Palak paneer
- Paneer capsicum (paneer and bell peppers in raisin crème sauce)
- Khoya paneer
- Paneer bhurji
Most international fast food restaurants in India offer paneer. McDonalds India serves the McSpicy Paneer and Paneer Wrap. In the United Kingdom, Subway has started serving a saag paneer patty. Tamatanga (Urban Indian Cuisine) restaurant also serves a Paneer Wrap.Taco Bell India serves the paneer and potato burrito. Pizza Hut, Dominos, and Papa Johns have pizzas with paneer toppings.
Queso blanco or queso fresco are often recommended as substitutes in the Americas as they are commercially available in many American markets but paneer is not. Both are generally salted, unlike paneer.
Circassian cheese is produced with a similar technology and is close in consistency to paneer. However it is usually salted.
Anari, a fresh mild whey cheese produced in Cyprus, is very similar in taste and texture to fresh Indian Paneer.
- World Food History- History of Cheese
- My Bangalore-History of fromage (cheese)
- "McDonald's launches McSpicy products". The Hindu. April 3, 2011.
- Mitra, Kushan (June 12, 2011). "Say (Cottage) Cheese: McDonalds paneer burger for the Indian palate". businesstoday.intoday.in. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
- Place, Investor (March 30, 2011). "Taco Bell paneer and potato burritos are a hit". MSN. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
- "Pizza Hut India menu".
- "Dominos Peppy Paneer Pizza".
- "Papa Johns Pizza India menu".
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