Simple and straight answer. Not really.
This is the picture of one of the Cottage Cheese that we recently bought and tried for ourselves.
My experience is that it is pretty close to the Paneer in taste but is far away from texture and consistency of Indian paneer.
Looking at the liquidity of the Cottage cheese, I thought of using our desi style of draining the extra water out. I used a cotton handkerchief to wrap the cheese and hang it for couple of hours.
This is the same process that we use for making Paneer from spoiled milk back at home, if you can recall.
After hours of hanging, the water was adamant on not leaving its peers.
What is the difference between Cottage Cheese and Paneer?
Cottage cheese that you get in most US stores is NOT directly equal to Indian Paneer.
As far as taste is concerned, it is pretty close to Indian version of Paneer. Cottage cheese is more on the liquid and greasy side.
You can’t extract the Paneer pieces for delicacies like Paneer tikka masala and family.
Although, Maahi did not like the Cottage Cheese Bhurji much, I thoroughly enjoyed this new dish that we tried.
She misses the Indian style Paneer even after trying the Nanak Paneer, Deep and Haldiram’s versions here in USA.
The recipe is same, why is there a difference then?
Yes, the recipe to make Cottage Cheese and Indian Paneer is almost same. Spoil the milk (Dhoodh Fadna in Hindi) and then hang it over to drain the water and solidify.
The big difference that I found was in the solidifying step. In the Indian version, we harden it to the level of making it look solid like a piece of brick (hanging it for about 2-3 hours).
On the other hand, the Cottage cheese is only subjected to draining water for about 3-4 minutes. This leads to retaining a good amount of water in the spoiled milk and hence the liquidity.
We did try to drain this extra water but could not achieve the desired results.
Indian Paneer sold in Desi Stores
The Indian Paneer sold in Indian or Pakistani grocery stores, has added Maida or not is a point of debate. It has become a point of confusion for us and we have decided not to use it.
Maahi says the Indian one used to be soft and tender as compared to the ones we get in USA. My mind pushes me to believe that Paneer in USA should be at-least more pure (less adulterated) than the Indian version.
What do you say? Which Paneer do you use? Do you make it at home fresh or buy from Market? Help us find a good one too.