Unlike other cheeses, paneer cheese doesn’t require curing or aging and it is prepared unsalted. It is very easy to make, with instructions from an online recipe or cookbook, you can make it in your kitchen at home.
Paneer cheese is an important dish in South Asian cuisines. It is used in many classic Indian dishes, especially their curry. So, next time you walk into an Indian restaurant and wonder what paneer cheese is, after reading this piece, you should have enough information to help you try the dish without any iota of skepticism.
What does paneer cheese taste like? The taste of paneer cheese can be described as neutral or bland, mainly because it is unsalted. This is an advantage because it increases the versatility of the cheese.
The neutral taste of the paneer cheese transforms it into a kind of platform that will absorb the flavor of anything you pair it with. The taste of paneer cheese can be compared to other white cheeses like ricotta, fresh mozzarella, queso fresco, or unsalted feta.
Paneer is used the same way tofu is used in East Asian cuisines. Its ability to blend into different flavor profiles makes it invaluable to these cuisines. Let’s see what nutritional value paneer cheese holds for the human body.
Nutritional Benefits of Paneer Cheese
Paneer cheese lovers take solace in the fact that their substitute for chicken can blend into any soup or gravy they want to try it out with. That is not all there is to this cheese. It is pretty healthy with loads of nutritional value that would do the body a lot of good.
The increasing rate of cancer in the world is usually attributed to what we eat and environmental degradation. Paneer can ward off certain kinds of cancer, especially breast cancer. Breast cancer is increasing at an alarming rate in women for reasons unknown. This ability is due to the presence of calcium and Vitamin D. These two micronutrients are responsible for keeping cancerous breast cancer cells away.
Calcium is good for the formation of good bone structure. It also strengthens the teeth and helps heart muscles stay healthy. Paneer cheese is a good source of calcium as indicated above. Calcium can help with the smooth running of the nervous system.
If you are a fitness freak, or someone that takes care to control what they eat, paneer cheese can help you lose weight because the protein present in it makes you full for a long time, therefore reducing the amount of food you eat.
Paneer cheese is great for people with diabetes. The magnesium present in paneer cheese can help to keep blood sugar levels at the optimal level. Insulin levels need to be regulated for people with diabetes. If they can maintain control of their blood sugar levels, they can easily manage the disease.
Culinary Uses of Paneer Cheese
If you come across paneer cheese in cubes, don’t fret. That is the most common form you will find out there. The cheese is often cubed before it is fried or used for any other purpose you desire.
The use of paneer cheese is limitless. You can eat it fresh and raw, or have it crumbled over dishes. You could imbue it with your flavor by serenading it with spices and seasoning as you desire. In India and its surrounding regions, paneer is used quite a lot. One of the most popular dishes is the Saag paneer. It is made using finely chopped spinach and paneer cheese with a mix of different spices and a delicious sauce.
If you want to try out something else made with spinach and paneer, you can try out the Palak paneer. This dish is made using pureed spinach, combined with ginger, and generously spiced with garam masala. Potatoes, corn, yogurt, and cream can be added to complement the dish.
Paneer cheese has a solid texture that doesn’t come apart when heated. It can be boiled in stews and soups without fear of it breaking apart. The stringy but soft texture makes it a perfect substitute for chicken in Indian vegetarian diets. In many recipes, it can replace tofu in and outside Asian cuisines.
History of Paneer Cheese? How to Procure It?
Paneer is derived from the word peynir. This word is in the vocabulary of the Turkish and Persian languages and it means cheese. Paneer is indigenous to the northern part of India.
Modern cheesemaking in India can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. But, the Aryans, who invaded the region, put a stop to the practice because they held cows to be sacred.
The cheese was made from curdling milk with a special variety of greens. The Aryans saw this process as destructive and tagged it as taboo. The new method of making paneer has its roots in Bengal and was probably invented by the Portuguese in the 17th century.
Paneer can be made at home or bought from the grocery store readymade. If you can’t do any of those, simply walk into an Indian restaurant and check the menu list.
Are Mozzarella and Paneer Cheese the Same?
The process of making mozzarella and paneer is very similar, but there are differences. There is no rennet added during the making of paneer, and the acid was added after the milk was already hot instead of before it got hot. The acid is added in the making of paneer cheese to avoid using rennet. For the most part, mozzarella might be similar in preparation, but the result is different.
Facts You Don’t Know About Paneer Cheese
- Homemade paneer tastes fresher than store-bought paneer.
- Paneer cheese has a very solid texture that can be compared to the texture of Panela. Even if you grill it, it won’t melt.
- Paneer cheese doesn’t use rennet because it is gotten from a cow’s stomach. In India, cows are sacred and should not be mutilated.