Paneer is one of those ingredients that is heaven sent. I love paneer. It is a fresh cheese that has a crumbly texture. Other than tasting heavenly, it has numerous health benefits. I incorporate paneer into many of my dishes including curries and desserts.
My family and I even eat it raw sometimes just so that we get the maximum health benefits from it.
This soft cheese is normally the main ingredient in a number of Indian dishes. The crumbly cheese has a distinct flavor, making it a great ingredient for various dishes.
You could be using a recipe that requires you to add paneer, yet you do not have any in the house. What do you do if that happens? What is a suitable paneer substitute?
Halloumi cheese, panela cheese, feta cheese, and extra-firm tofu are great substitutes for paneer. Ricotta cheese is also a good substitute as long as you drain it well and don’t use it in curries or soups.
What exactly is paneer?
Paneer is a cheese that is made from curdling cow's milk or water buffalo's milk with lemon juice or lime. It is usually unsalted and packed with essential nutrients like proteins.
Paneer is commonly used in Indian cuisine. It has so many uses.
Paneer never melts. You can grill it, fry it, or even use it in your stir fry. I never really used paneer in a lot of my recipes until recently, and honestly, I can’t get enough of its goodness.
I particularly love using it in my desserts because it makes everything taste better. I also love adding it to my salads. It gives my salads a soft texture that I love and also enhances the flavor of the salads.
My favorite thing about paneer is that it blends with almost everything. I particularly love the fact that it never overpowers the taste of other ingredients but instead blends in with them effortlessly.
Where can you get paneer?
Most of the time, I buy my paneer online. However, they are always available in Asian grocery stores.
If there is no Asian market close to you, try groceries that are close to the Asian population or just buy paneer online like me.
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Paneer cheese substitutes
You may want to substitute paneer for various reasons. You could be in the middle of a recipe and you realize you have none in stock, or maybe one of your family members does not like paneer, or you just want to experiment with something else.
There are a few ingredients that can substitute paneer and give you results that are quite similar. These five best paneer substitutes will come in very handy and give you amazing results.
- Panela cheese
Panela cheese is a perfect paneer replacement. Queso panela is normally made from cow milk that has been pasteurized.
Just like paneer, panela cheese blends in perfectly with other ingredients and it also doesn’t melt easily.
Substitute paneer with panela cheese when making soups and curries as it has a great creamy texture. It makes for a great substitute and will taste just as well as when you use paneer.
- Halloumi cheese
Halloumi cheese is one of the best substitutes for paneer. It is made from sheep’s milk. You can easily make halloumi cheese at home, or buy it at a grocery store near you. If you can’t find any, buy it online.
Just like paneer, halloumi cheese is a versatile ingredient and has several uses. It also does not melt easily and you can grill it the same way you grill paneer.
Substitute paneer with halloumi cheese when making sandwiches and wraps. You can also use it in salads to give the salad a creamy, milky taste.
Feta is yet another great paneer substitute. Most of the time, this white cheese is made from a mixture of goat milk and sheep milk.
Unlike paneer, feta has a salty flavor so I recommend using smaller amounts so that it does not overpower the taste of your dish.
Use this excellent paneer substitute when making curries as it has a great salty taste.
Ricotta is also a good paneer alternative. It is an Italian cheese that is popular in the United States. It is a low-fat cheese that is a good source of protein.
However, you should use ricotta that is pressed and unsalted. You should also drain it properly as it tends to have excess water.
Unlike paneer, ricotta can melt very easily. For this reason, you should not use it in soups and curries.
You can use this perfect paneer substitute with ricotta in a variety of dishes such as sandwiches, wraps, or salads.
- Extra-firm tofu
If you are making curry and you don’t have paneer in hand, you should definitely substitute it with organic tofu. Tofu is an excellent vegan paneer substitute.
Just like paneer, it blends in well with the other ingredients because it has a very mild flavor. This makes it one of the best substitutes.
If you are using tofu in place of paneer, fry the tofu lightly for a few minutes but make sure that the inside remains tender. Alternatively, press it and then bake it before using it in your curry.
Unlike paneer, tofu does not have saturated fats. It also has a very low-calorie count. Tofu is arguably the better option compared to paneer.
Paneer cheese uses
Here are some of the ways you can use panner in the kitchen.
|Combine with vegetables||Paneer and vegetables are a great combination. The blend perfectly and paneer gives the vegetable an awesome milky flavor.|
|Knead into dough||People have been kneading paneer into a dough for the longest time. They add flavor to whatever you are making, be it breakfast or snacks for the kids.|
|Grilled paneer||Since paneer does not melt, you can grill it to make the perfect starter. All you need to do is marinate it in the spices of your choice and a little bit of yogurt for a few hours and then grill it. It is quite flavorful.|
|Paneer Bhurji||You can use paneer to make paneer bhurji which is a common Indian street food. It is quite easy to make and you only need a few ingredients.|
|Pizza, sandwiches, and wraps||You can incorporate a little bit of paneer in your sandwich or wrap ingredients. You can also use it as a topping on your pizza.|
|Filling||You can use paneer as a filling for your bread rolls. It gives the bread an awesome, creamy taste. Your kids will love it.|
|Deep fried||Deep-fried paneer tastes amazing. Since paneer does not melt, it still maintains its shape when deep-fried.|
|Salads||Ever since I started using paneer in my salads, I have never looked back. It is a great addition to salads and it enhances the texture and flavor.|
|Desserts||Paneer is also a great addition to desserts because it gives them an amazing flavor. I use paneer when making a lot of my desserts.|
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Health benefits of Paneer Cheese
- Ensures that the heart is in good shape
Paneer plays an important role in ensuring that your heart is in good health. It is packed with potassium which balances all the fluids present inside your body.
The potassium ensures that there is just enough fluid in your system. If the fluid is too much, it would cause high blood pressure.
The potassium in paneer also regularizes your salt intake which in turn ensures that you don’t get high blood pressure.
- Strengthens bones and teeth
Other than being packed with protein, paneer is also rich in calcium. Calcium is responsible for strengthening bones and teeth.
Don’t have any other source of calcium? No problem. Just eat raw paneer and it will satisfy all your calcium dietary requirements for the day.
- It is packed with proteins
Paneer is very rich in protein. It also contains essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and iron. However, it also has saturated fats.
According to USDA, 50 grams of paneer contains 5 grams of protein. Paneer that is derived from cow milk has a lot of protein. Cow milk has a very high amount of casein protein that translates to a high protein amount in paneer.
Consuming paneer raw gives you a substantial amount of protein. You don’t necessarily have to cook it to enjoy the protein benefits. Raw paneer tastes just as good. All you need to do is season it will a little bit of black pepper.
- Maintains blood sugar levels
If you have issues with your blood sugar levels, paneer is the answer. It is packed with magnesium that regulates any abnormal spikes in the blood sugar level. Paneer also plays a role in maintaining a good immune system.
Additionally, the high protein content in paneer makes sure that sugar is released into the blood at a slow rate.
- Aids in weight loss
Paneer is quite filling thanks to its high protein content. When you consume paneer raw, it keeps you satisfied for a very long time.
This ensures that you do not eat too much food and in a way gives your body time to burn all the extra fats in your body. Eventually, you will lose a significant amount of weight.
- Improves digestion
Paneer aids indigestion. It contains phosphorus that helps in both digestion and excretion. If you are constipating, try eating raw paneer and see how it will relieve you from constipation.
Paneer is packed with magnesium which draws water into the stool and consequently makes it soft enough.
- Rich folate source
Folate is essential for pregnant women. It plays an essential role in fetal development.
Pregnant women are advised to consume paneer so as to increase the production of red blood cells.