Paneer do pyaza, mattar paneer, paneer makhani, kadhai paneer, palak paneer, paneer kofta, paneer malai tikka, paneer masala tikka, paneer pizza, paneer burger, paneer cutlets, paneer pakoras... No, I am not rattling off a menu for you to choose from but just thinking of some of the most popular paneer dishes that we all love to savour every then and now. Everyone loves the chewy, creamy taste of paneer. To think of any party or shaadi menu without paneer dishes is blasphemous; it is in fact the vegetarian chicken! Paneer is undoubtedly the best thing on a vegetarian menu.
Paneer is made by curdling milk using food-derived acid from lemon, sour curd, vinegar, or citric acid. The curd is then sieved using muslin cloth to separate it from the whey. It is weight pressed to create slabs, which is what we buy. The name 'paneer' is derived from Persian 'panir' and its origin has been attributed to Iranian, Afghan, Portuguese invaders and settlers, but whoever introduced it to India, today this mildly flavoured, non-fermented, non-melting farmers cheese is an integral part of our cuisine.
Paneer Nutrition Value and Facts: 40gms Paneer Contains:
Paneer is a good choice for proteins, especially in a vegetarian diet. With a biological value of protein being 80-86%, it contains all the nine essential amino acids. As we all know, proteins are the building blocks of our cells; they are also essential for maintaining growth, repairing tissue, keeping our immunity in top shape, maintaining our blood volume and are an essential part of almost every hormone, and enzyme. Indian diets lack proteins and are largely a cereal-based diet. Paneer can replace dals; it can be used as a snack and can also be eaten raw. Being bland in taste, it can be flavoured to an individual's taste and paired with almost anything, making its consumption easy and hassle free.
Fats in paneer are about 20% and it is a rich source of saturated fats. But it also has healthy Monounsaturated fats (MUFA). MUFA is associated with lowering the LDL (bad cholesterol) in the blood. Oleic acid, the main MUFA in paneer, has been associated with lowering BP. Paneer also contains a fair amount of alpha linoleic acid, an omega-3 polyunsaturated fat, associated with a moderate lowering of risk of cardiac diseases. Because of a high amount of sat fats, portion control is essential.
Paneer contains lower amounts of carbohydrates, as compared to dals which help in the Indian diets where carbs are very high as it is.
Paneer can also help increase fat burn because it contains conjugated Linoleic acid, a PUFA fat which is associated with increasing the rate of fat burning in our body. So, those on weight management regimens must include one serving of paneer in their meals.
Being a milk product, paneer is a rich source of calcium and phosphorus, both of which are crucial for our musculoskeletal health. Calcium alone may not be able to improve bone health; it needs phosphorus for optimum use, so if there is a food that gives you both together then it's amazing. Calcium is essential for our heart muscles and nerves to function properly. Phosphorus is present in every cell of our body and is needed to release energy, maintain the acid-base balance and it also supports growth.
Paneer is also healthy food choice for diabetics. It is low in carbs and a rich source of protein, which makes it perfect for controlling post meal sugar surges. I always advice diabetics to start their meal with a couple of bites of protein, it helps prevent an insulin rush, and also proteins in a meal help slow down the release of energy preventing sugar spikes and also help in promoting longer satiety.
Similar cheeses across the world are: Anari of Cyprus, Circassian Cheese, Farmer cheese and firm Quark, the Spanish Queso blanco and queso feresco is also quite similar as is unsalted Halloumi.
Paneer is an important part of the Indian cuisine, and like any other food, is nourishing and healthy when taken in the right amounts. Make the most of it by including it in your regular diet.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.