This is freshly made paneer or ‘chhena’ ( a.k.a. ‘chhana’) or fresh Indian cheese. The texture of this cheese is slightly firmer than ricotta cheese, the latter being very creamy. However, if you knead it well, this ‘chhena’ becomes very smooth and creamy, too. Also, the process of making ricotta cheese and ‘chhena’ are the same. Even though an internet-search shows paneer is ‘cottage cheese’, the texture of the two are very different. Cottage cheese is loose with curds while paneer or ‘chhena’ is not loose.
‘Chhena’ can be easily made at home and stored in an airtight container, mixed with sugar and other flavors to prepare sweets or desserts during the Indian festive season! Ingredients you will need:
3 limes, juice freshly squeezed
1 gallon organic whole milk
- In a small bowl, mix lime juice and water and keep aside. (You may need a little more lime juice)
- In a big saucepan, bring the milk to boil on medium-high heat. (Milk can easily stick to the bottom of the pan so be sure to keep stirring) Boil the milk for 15-20 mins till it has reduced a bit. When the milk is still at rolling boil, turn off the heat and remove the pan from heat.
- Add the diluted lime juice and give it just one stir and let it be. The milk will coagulate within a few seconds.
- Cover a colander with a cheesecloth and gently pour the coagulated milk in it. The milk whey will drain out while you have the fresh cheese in the cloth. Now, holding the cloth at the top with the cheese in a lump at the bottom, gently press down on the cloth. This helps to drain out the excess water. Be gentle with this process, it may take 3-4 mins for the water to drain out completely. Once done, you will have a well-drained, freshly made soft ‘chhena’ or paneer (ricotta cheese).
It’s versatile and can be used for any Indian dessert recipe that requires sweet cheese. I’ve used this for my Rose Sandesh recipe.