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ricotta instead of paneer in Indian dishes

scunge Mar 27, 2008 06:19 AM

Can ricotta cheese be used in place of paneer ? Once I believe I did read so Thanks

  1. luckyfatima Feb 23, 2011 02:50 PM

    I sometimes break up homemade paneer and serve it a top saag. Fresh homemade paneer doesn't always stay in perfect chunks and sometimes you don't have time to fully strain it to get it very hard. Broken up as a topping is just fine.

    I think the taste of ricotta, at least the kind I have tried before at my local grocery, tastes too different from paneer. But if it works for you, why not.

    1. p
      pine time Feb 23, 2011 01:20 PM

      I make homemade paneer with whole milk. When a little cooler (altho' still pretty hot), knead in about 1/8 to 1/4 c of suji (farina/cream of wheat). Knead it like bread dough. While it doesn't firm up fully, adds enough body to hold together well. In fact, I do this in making rasgullas and they never fall apart.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pine time
        scunge Feb 23, 2011 02:24 PM

        http://www.infolanka.com/recipes/mess... just now found this recipe

      2. b
        Big Bunny May 6, 2008 09:58 AM

        How about queso fresco? You would have to compensate for the salt, but the texture is close.

        By the way: I have used firm tofu, and it works nicely.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Big Bunny
          ak78 Feb 23, 2011 11:51 AM

          try baked tofu. it's chewier so although it doesn't look white, it holds up better to the sauce/gravy and also is (or feels like) more neutral in taste as compared to the regular tofu. i often saute my paneer anyway before adding sauce, since it holds together well, the baked tofu sort of fakes it out.

        2. m
          mincewords Mar 28, 2008 04:59 PM

          In Suvir Saran's "Indian Home Cooking", he says that you can make your own faux paneer by baking ricotta cheese in the oven. I tried this once and it was easy, but not a perfect stand-in.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mincewords
            alkapal Mar 28, 2008 05:11 PM

            that's like reaching around your head to touch your nose! paneer is easy.

            1. re: alkapal
              Vetter May 4, 2008 03:54 PM

              I agree. If you can make oatmeal, you can make paneer.

              And it's a lot cheaper than buying ricotta!

          2. s
            Super Salad Mar 27, 2008 10:05 AM

            I often use non-fat farmer's cheese. It imparts a creamy mouth feel with very few calories and very little fat. As long as you don't mind that the cheese isn't in chunks and what you are after is a little creaminess feel free to use any blander cheese like cottage cheese, farmer's cheese, or even ricotta.

            1. f
              foodwich Mar 27, 2008 08:16 AM

              ever tried halloumi ? it fries up nicely. taste would be different i want to say better. infact might even try it myself and post.

              1. thew Mar 27, 2008 07:25 AM

                id rather a too salty ricotta salata or even feta to firm tofu in this case. And i have nothing against tofu. It's ok if it doesn't taste "authentic", as long as it tastes good; paneer adds more than flavorless chunks it adds cheesiness.

                4 Replies
                1. re: thew
                  johnmlinn Mar 27, 2008 09:55 AM

                  Mmmm, depends. Paneer's pretty mild and comparable to tofu, imo.

                  1. re: johnmlinn
                    thew Mar 27, 2008 10:04 AM

                    it seems to me that, unlike paneer, tofu wouldn't bring (as AB might say) any flavor to the party, and only pick up what was already there without it. In which case I might just leave it out altogether. I'm usually of the mind (probably comes from being a poet) that what doesn't add, subtracts.

                    1. re: thew
                      JungMann Mar 27, 2008 10:44 AM

                      If one uses a good quality tofu and not some generic silken variety, it can add it's own milky flavor. It's not that uncommon among American-born Desis as a sub, as far as I can tell.

                      1. re: JungMann
                        Miss Needle Mar 27, 2008 10:55 AM

                        Yeah, I actually had palak tofu at Chola last weekend. And it works well as a substitute.

                2. c
                  cheesemonger Mar 27, 2008 07:14 AM

                  Not that this was the question- but paneer is very easy to make yourself. All you need is milk and lemon juice (and a cheesecloth).

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: cheesemonger
                    scunge Mar 27, 2008 07:26 AM

                    That sounds like something to try Thankyou

                    1. re: cheesemonger
                      missfunkysoul Mar 27, 2008 08:46 AM

                      I second that - it's so easy to make, it will totally blow your mind!

                      But in a pinch, I'd sub tofu also.

                      1. re: cheesemonger
                        nshah May 4, 2008 12:43 PM

                        I agree, making paneer at home is not at all difficult. When prepareing paneer do use a mix of full fat and 2% or 1% milk. Otherwise the paneer is too chewy and dry to taste. I have a problem with forming it into a firm, smooth block, like the ones available in grocery stores. Mine tends to become crumbly when cut into cubes. Does anyone know how to make home made paneer smooth and firm ?

                        1. re: nshah
                          caviar_and_chitlins May 4, 2008 05:32 PM

                          mine isn't what you'd call "smooth", but it holds it's shape. It certainly doesn't like the knife. If you can cut it with some dental floss or fishing line, it might help the crumbling issue.

                          1. re: caviar_and_chitlins
                            Morticia May 4, 2008 05:37 PM

                            Do either of you use full-fat milk, or the mixture that nshah recommended above? I've tried it with 2% (very dry/crumbly) and full-fat (regular store-brand, a bit better but still crumbly) - and I haven't made paneer lately (using tofu for health & quickness) but I'm wondering if anyone has tried premium full-fat organic milk (like Strauss?) or using a mix of milk & cream?

                            1. re: Morticia
                              caviar_and_chitlins May 5, 2008 02:51 PM

                              Well, here's where I cheat a little. I get milk from a local dairy that will sneak me some raw whole milk for making cheese for home use.

                              I would think that the more fat, the less likely to crumble.

                              1. re: caviar_and_chitlins
                                johnmlinn May 6, 2008 09:33 AM

                                I think as far as the crumbling goes it's because the cheese isn't adhering into a block. Has anyone tried removing the whey and pressing into into a block with a cheesecloth and then redipping it in hot water for a moment before allowing it to press under weight? Kind of a la mozzerella, the heat might meld the crumbles together a bit more.

                      2. d
                        DeppityDawg Mar 27, 2008 06:30 AM

                        The texture is completely different: paneer will usually stay in firm chunks, while ricotta will break up and dissolve into your sauce. The taste is also different, although both are relatively mild. So it wouldn't be a substitution, but a new recipe. Probably a delicious one. In the other direction, if you put crumbled paneer in your cannoli, this would also be a new recipe. Probably less delicious.

                        Oh wait, there is also a type of ricotta that is pressed into a firm block. This would be much closer to paneer in texture.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: DeppityDawg
                          bitsubeats Mar 27, 2008 06:55 AM

                          ricotta salata? Its too salty and firm to be used I think

                          If it were me, i'd use firm tofu. Believe it or not they have a similar texture and well the taste isnt exactly the same...but its close enough that maybe you wouldn't notice

                          1. re: bitsubeats
                            JungMann Mar 27, 2008 07:01 AM

                            My father used to use tofu instead of paneer when we were growing up. It might have just been because the Indian markets didn't carry paneer back then, but either way, the taste can be very similar and milky if you use a high quality tofu.

                            1. re: JungMann
                              bitsubeats Mar 27, 2008 07:27 AM

                              yup ive had paneer with tofu instead of paneer, plus it makes a great vegan substitute (if you dont add the yogurt and ghee

                              1. re: JungMann
                                Morticia May 4, 2008 05:27 PM

                                My parents do this as well, since they are trying to cut out fat and dairy. I've tried it, and it works okay - it's much healthier than paneer, especially if you are using full-fat milk (which I feel is essential to making a decent paneer.)

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