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Take paneer away from a vegetarian and you have taken all his culinary happiness away. There’s a reason why neither his restaurant outings are complete without paneer, nor his street-side food cravings are satisfied without it. And that simple reason is, paneer is the epitome of taste and texture for a vegetarian. And to say that it means any less to a non-vegetarian would be an understatement. As may be obvious to everyone, this tasty item is pretty easy to prepare at home. And what comes as a surprise is you can even add a bit of extra flavours to give it a personalized touch.

The procedure to prepare simple, standard and ordinary paneer consists of adding an acid element (preferably lemon juice or white vinegar) to any milk of choice. But a little bit of experimentation can take you a step further. Have a look:

Thyme and Lemon Paneer

  • Fresh lemon juice3 tbsp
  • Thyme leaves (chopped)½ tbsp
  • Salt½ tbsp
  • Cracked black pepper¼ tbsp

Paneer with a Hint of Warm Spices

  • White vinegar2 tbsp
  • Garam masala¼ tbsp
  • Ground coriander (a pinch)
  • Salt½ tbsp

Honey and Cinnamon Flavored Paneer

  • White vinegar2 tbsp
  • Honey1 tbsp
  • Ground cinnamon¼ tbsp

Refreshing Mint and Coconut Paneer

  • Mint leaves(chopped)1tbsp
  • Desiccated coconut4tbsp

2 cups of milk along with these ingredients will give your beloved paneer such an impressive twist that your love for it will go up another notch. Follow these directions to lend that twist:

  • Heat the milk in a saucepan, making sure the milk does not come to boil but heats up enough that small bubbles form around its edge.
  • Turn the flame off and stir the spices of the version of paneer being made into the milk. Next, add the white vinegar or lemon juice.
  • The milk will instantly curdle when the white vinegar or lemon juice is added; leave it to completely separate into curd and whey in the saucepan.
  • Lay a double layer of clean cheesecloth or muslin cloth on a strainer or colander. Drain the curdled milk through the strainer, discard the whey (watery
  • yellow strained liquid) and leave the fresh cheese on a colander, to drip into a bowl. (The hardness of the cheese will depend on how well it has been drained. Drain for 20-30 minutes for softer spreadable cheese, and for 45 minutes to an hour for harder, well-set cheese.)
  • Once drained, lift and twist the ends of the cheese cloth along with the cheese, and set it in a plate, add another flat bottom plate on top and lay weight on it.
  • Refrigerate for 3-4 hours before consuming.

Paneer is a dish that can never get old, and savouring it is an act you want to perform every day. And although it is the complete package of taste and texture, it still has scope for refinement. Try these easy variations and add a lot more depth to your paneer perception. Give these better, tastier and fresher versions of paneer a try as soon as possible!