Paneer is an easily made cheese much loved in India. If you have a stove, a cheese-cloth or a a thin, old floursack cloth (nice and big is best), some lemon juice or citric acid you are in business.
Here is what I do. I learned this from my mother, whose paneer was wildly popular in our little town. Even though I learned to make paneer from her many, many years ago, I never made it after I married because, as previously stated, I hated paneer.
½ gallon of fresh, organic, whole-fat milk. If you must, you can substitute about a third of that with 2% milk
½ teaspoon of citric acid or 1 tablespoon of freshly pressed lemon juice
pinch or two of salt (optional)
Place a tall cooking vessel in your sink and set the colander atop it. Line the colander with your floursack cloth or two layers of cheesecloth.
In a stainless steel cooking vessel bring the milk to almost a boil. At no point let the milk boil vigorously during the paneer making process. Your curds become to small when that happens.
Stirring with a wooden spoon (preferably, but stainless steel will work too), add the citric acid or lemon juice. If you do decide to use the salt, add it now. Stir gently but constantly while the milk solids separate from the whey (which I nutritious, or so I hear). Once the whey has a gray-greenish appearance gently pour the contens into the lined colander. Allow to drain for about 5 minutes.
Gathering up the corners of the cloth lift the curds out of the colander.
Here is where my technique varies from those you’ll see on other sites.
I use kitchen tongs to help me hold and twist the bundle while I squeeze more of the whey out. By now the curds should be fairly dry. If you plan to make something like say, Paneer Paratha (a flaky Indian panfried bread with Paneer stuffing), or to make sweets like Sandesh, you let the curds keep ‘drip-drying’. When the curds remain in that loosely packed shape they are called ‘Chenna’.
If you want to make paneer for cutting into cubes and using in recipes, follow the rest of the instructions. Pat the shape into a patty and cover with the cloth. Loosely, but securely twist on the side. Place the paneer on a flat board and another flat board or plate on top. Place something heavy on top, this will help press excess whey out while the curds cool into the desired shape. I like to use the lid from my cast iron casserole.
After an hour remove the disk of paneer and wrap securely in plastic wrap. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
*I use floursack cloth because, unlike cheesecloth, it is re-usable.
*I prefer citric acid as I have more control over the level of acidity. You can find citric acid in canning section of your grocery store. I use it for making paneer as well as de-calcifying the dishwasher. One bottle lasts a long time.
* When buying milk read the label. I have seen organic milk with additives. It is absolutely necessary to have only pure milk.