“Chena” or Indian cottage cheese is the key ingredient to make most of the traditional Bengali sweets. Apart from that, the well known milk product “Paneer”,which is largely used in vegetarian dishes, is nothing but a block shaped form of cottage cheese. Given its broad range of utilities, I am sharing the simple process to make “chena” with you.
- Whole cow milk/Full fat milk – 1 lit. (approx. 4 cups)
- Lemon juice – 2 – 3 tablespoon
Boil the milk in a heavy bottom pan on medium flame and stir occasionally so that it does not burn at the bottom. Put the gas off when the milk starts boiling. If the milk becomes too hot then let the temperature go down for a while.
Mix the lemon juice with 2 tbspoon of water. Add it, 1 teaspoon at a time, stirring the milk after each addition until the milk separates; the solid curds part from the green and watery whey.Allow the curds and whey to cool for half an hour (or until the temperature you can handle), then strain the mixture through a cheese cloth/thin cotton cloth in strainer. You may wish to save some or all of the whey; it can be used to make your next batch of “chena” or “paneer”, producing a slightly more tender cheese than lemon juice. Rinse the curds with fresh water several times so that the smell of lemon goes away.Wrap the cheese cloth around itself in order to squeeze out moisture from the curd. The more you squeeze, the firmer the resulting paneer shall be. You can hang the cloth containing the curd for 30 min. so that excess water can come out.
Now you can use this curd which is known as “chena” to make sweets and other Indian dishes which requires loose paneer or you can make a firm “paneer block” from it.
- Don’t add lemon juice in too hot milk. The result would be a hard cheese which is not desirable.