Paneer(Panir in Persian) is Indian cottage cheese. In Eastern India, the ingredient is often called Chhena or Channa.
Paneer is basically an un-aged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese or curd cheese. It is made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice or other food acid. The world over, the ingredient is known as cottage cheese but unlike most cheeses of the world, the making of this particular food does not involve rennet as the coagulation agent. This makes it completely lacto vegetarian. It finds wide usage all over the world, particularly in South East Asia.
Origin of Panir Recipes
Paneer has been around for centuries and it is strongly believed that the recipes which make use of this ingredient are almost as old as the commodity itself. Although the exact origin of the recipes is not known, they have been an important part of the Indian royal cuisine for many years.
Culinary Uses of Panir
The food has been one of the favorites of vegetarians, both for its taste and nutritional worth. A highly favored substitute for meat, the versatility of its usage has led to it becoming one of the most popular food ingredients of India where a significant percentage of the population is vegetarian. Apart from being used in the preparation of snacks, main course dishes as well as desserts, paneer is commonly used in curried dishes. No matter how much the ingredient is cooked, diced or sliced, it will continue to hold its shape and will never melt no matter even when subjected to high heat, unlike other common cheeses. This quality of Chhena has made it a popular ingredient for almost all foods and preparations.
Popular Paneer Recipes
are some popular main course dishes which are made with it. There are also many desserts made with Chhena, Panir Burfi and Rasgulla being the most famous.
Cuisines Using Panir
Paneer is the most common type of cheese used in traditional South Asian cuisines, especially Indian and Pakistani cuisines. Most commonly, the ingredient is used in northern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh mostly because of the prominence of milk in these cuisines.
Buying and Storing Panir
While many households prefer to prepare Paneer at home, there are many who choose to keep things convenient and buy the product. It is readily available in grocery stores and supermarkets everywhere in small and large packages. The ingredient is mostly packaged in cube form and it can be molded as required. In dairy shops, it is prepared fresh every day. Packaged chenna should be checked for expir date. Ideally one should opt for purchasing freshly and hygenically prepared paneer. Packaged Chhena should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not the freezer. It can be stored for up to 10 days past the stamped 'sell-by' date. While paneer bought from dairy shops can also be stored in the fridge, it is always better to consume it as soon as possible.
Paneer is obtained by curdling of milk and hence it is an excellent source of nutrients such as protein, Vitamin D, B-vitamins, particularly Vitamin B 12 and riboflavin as well as important minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium as well as selenium among others. Its protein content of ~ 18.3 g per 100 g makes it suitable for use as a reliable protein source by vegetarians.
Owing to the fact that it lends itself effectively in a wide variety of cuisines, use of paneer prepared from low-fat milk is being encouraged.