Well I finally got around to trying to make paneer in the microwave, and I have to say, it works a treat!I use a 4 qt pyrex bowl to make paneer from 1/2 gallon of milk at a time. Use glass or ceramic for this project – microwavable plastic just won’t cut the mustard, plus plastic tends to hold oils and flavors and it can give your paneer an off taste.
Compared to making paneer on the stovetop, this is much easier to clean up, quicker, less likely to boil over, and it’s easier to monitor the temperature for consistent results.
I’m hooked on microwave paneer!
YOU WILL NEED
- 4 qt microwave safe glass or ceramic bowl or casserole
- A colander lined with butter muslin, flour sack cloth, or REAL cheesecloth (like this)
- A large stainless steel stock pot or other large pan (if you plan to reserve the whey)
- Weights for pressing the paneer (not needed for ricotta or desert paneer)
- 1/2 gallon of whole milk
- 2 T organic plain yoghurt – MUST have live culture, OR 2 T lemon juice or white vinegar
- OPTIONAL: 1/2 c powdered milk (to increase paneer yield) DO NOT USE if you are making desert paneer or ricotta cheese
The higher fat content you can find for the milk you use, the more paneer it will yield.
- Put 1/2 gallon milk in the microwave safe bowl – use 2x capacity so it won’t spill over if it foams up in the microwave.
- Stir in the powdered milk if you are using it.
- Microwave on high in 5 min intervals – how long it ultimately takes depends on the power of your microwave.
- Keep heating at 5 min intervals until the temp of the milk reaches 120F – then start watching the milk and check the temp every 2 or 3 mins until it reaches 160F to 165F.
- Stir in the yogurt, vinegar, or lemon juice. The curds should separate from the whey very rapidly. If it does not fully separate, add a bit more souring agent until separation is complete, about 1 T at a time.
- Drain in a colander lined with butter muslin, REAL cheesecloth (not the gauze stuff they sell at the grocery store), or flour-sack cloth – or some variety of a thin, lintless cloth. Suspend the colander over a large stock pot or other pan to reserve the whey for making dal, bread, or other uses.
FOR RICOTTA CHEESE:
Let the curds hang for about 15 minutes. Do not press. Unwrap it and you’re done. The sooner you use it the better.
FOR INDIAN DESERTS such as Ras Gullah:
For desert use, you will not press the curds, you will instead leave it hanging until the curds are cool enough to handle and you will knead the curds.
FOR MAIN DISHES such as Mattar Paneer:
Fold the straining cloth over the drained curds, remove from the colander, set on a plate or inside a pan and put a heavy weight on top to press the curds. I usually put the paneer wrapped in the muslin in the bottom of a large pan and set a plate on top of it, then put a milk jug full of water on top. I let that sit in the fridge overnight. Take it out the next day – there will be additional whey pressed out – unwrap it, cube it, and you’re good to go.