Paneer: India’s Favorite Cheese

Paneer is a variety of cow’s milk cheese that traces its origins back to India. It is the most common of cheeses used in India, as well as throughout much of the Middle East. It is called an acid-set cheese, meaning that it is curdled and set with the help of lemon juice or a similar acid instead of the rennet and bacteria that is commonly used for most conventional cheeses. Its lack of rennet and its high protein content makes the cheese a popular choice for vegetarians.

The word “paneer” is a Persian word that translates to “cheese”. It was apparently first created back in the seventeenth century, when the Portuguese introduced the process of creating acid-set cheeses to the country. After that, it spread throughout India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, where it remains highly popular to this day.

The taste of paneer is simple and highly versatile. Indian chefs like to crumble it into many curry-based dishes, since the cheese readily absorbs the strong flavors of the spices. You can also find it used as a filling for traditional stuffed breads and desserts. In modern India, it has been adopted for use in a number of familiar fast-food dishes, with paneer-topped pizzas, paneer cheeseburgers, and even a paneer-stuffed burrito appearing in Indian versions of American franchises..

At MokSHA’s Bellevue Indian cuisine restaurant, you can experience the taste of paneer in many of our dishes. Try a lahsooni saag paneer, a paneer butter masala, or a malai paneer kofta.