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Mar 27, 2008 06:19 AM

ricotta instead of paneer in Indian dishes

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

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  1. 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

      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

        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

          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

            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.)

      2. 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

          That sounds like something to try Thankyou

          1. re: cheesemonger

            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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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. 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

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

                1. re: johnmlinn

                  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

                    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

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

              2. 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. 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.