definition of Wikipedia
Paneer tikka from Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Alternative name(s)||Chhana, chhena|
|Place of origin||India|
|Region or state||South Asia|
|Variations||Palak Paneer, Mutter Paneer|
Paneer (Hindi: पनीर panīr; Urdu: پنير from Persian: پنير panir) is a fresh cheese common in South Asian cuisine. It is of Indian origin often referred in the Vedas dating back to 6000 BC. In eastern parts of India, 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.
Unlike some cheeses in the world, the making of paneer does not involve rennet as the coagulation agent, thus making it completely lacto-vegetarian and providing one of the sources of protein for vegetarians in India. It is generally unsalted.
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 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 Eastern Indian and Bangladeshi cuisines, the curds are beaten or kneaded by hand into a dough-like consistency called ছানা sana in Assamese, ছানা chhana in Bengali, or େଛନା 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. In Nepal, Paneer sekwa is a very popular item.
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 very popular when 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 common paneer dishes:
At least three fast food restaurants 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.
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.
Anari is very similar in taste and texture to fresh Indian Paneer. Anari is a fresh mild whey cheese produced in Cyprus.
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