I'm confused. I hear paneer described as 'Indian cottage cheese' but it's certainly nothing like cottage cheese when it's fried up and put in curries or turned into Sandesh. There seems to be a million ways to handle it, for instance here are three different ways that paneer is used:
Some websites will just have you drain the paneer, some have you press it, Ecurry has you knead it and then fry it for the sandesh! At what point is it in the typical paneer state? None of those are like cottage cheese! I'm mainly concerned because I want to make malai kofta and I'm sure the moisture content and firmness of the paneer will make a big difference in the texture of the dumplings.
Help! Please and Thank You-
Like the others said, storebought paneer (at least here in the US) tends to be drier, like a block of dense tofu. If you make it at home, it tends to have more moisture. I usually press it in cheesecloth by hand, then place it between a plate and heavy pot to press it even more. For dishes like paneer paratha, mattar paneer, malai kofta, I either grate or crumble the paneer. For desserts, I don't press it out -- I just tie the cheesecloth to my kitchen faucet to let it drain for a couple hours, then knead it by hand.
From my experience, yes, texture depends on the use. I make rasmalai (cream-based rasgullas) from homemade paneer. I drain the paneer, allow it to cool somewhat (still hot), knead in just 1-2 Tbl. suji (farina), and squeeze together into balls. I've never had success with storebought paneer for that, however.
As Kate said, freshly made paneer is like small curd cottage cheese. You can drain it, press it and knead it, all of which will affect texture and firmness.
There are different uses for every kind of paneer. Moist, crumbly paneer can go into desserts. Dry, block paneer can be grilled or cooked in gravy. For malai kofta, I've only used block paneer, but fresh paneer might improve the texture of the croquette.
hey kateearle, the texture of home made paneer is more like ricotta or small curd cottage cheese(maybe a little drier though) , while store bought is pressed into firm blocks. I took a look at the recipe link above - if you use store bought paneer you can pretty much follow the instructions completely. If you do get to making paneer at home, you can mash up everything but the paneer in the FP and then fold in the paneer.
Hope this helps