If you are a fan of Indian food, you might have noticed that some of the dishes at Indian restaurants and takeouts have ‘paneer’ in their name, but like most of us, you are probably unaware of what exactly ‘paneer’ means.
Is paneer an ingredient? Is it a way in which the food is prepared? Also, is it suitable for vegans?
The first time I came across the word, I was baffled and found myself asking all of these questions you see above. So, what is it and can we have it?
Paneer: Suitable For Vegans or Vegetarians?
Is paneer vegan? Well, no.
This is because paneer actually is, is a type of cheese that is found native to this specific area of Southern Asia. It is often used in Pakistani, Afghan, Indian, and Bangladesh cuisine.
Why is it not vegan? Simply because it is cheese, which is a product that comes from animals.
Of course, all being considered, it is still a pretty easy cheese to be able to substitute when you are cooking a vegan meal. So, out of all of the Indian foods, paneer is actually one that should be avoided by vegans.
Interestingly, paneer is a cheese that does not melt, making it more like a curd, which is probably even worse.
However, this does mean that it retains its shape and texture, while still taking on other flavors to a degree, few other curds do this, but one thing that does do this is tofu. So, this is actually the perfect replacement for paneer in vegan dishes!
As a cheese, it is vegetarian styleable.
Is There Vegan Paneer? Where To Buy Vegan Paneer?
Luckily there are ways you can enjoy paneer if you are vegan. As I suspected there are some manufacturers who make paneer with tofu for vegans!
There are plenty you can buy, there is even vegan paneer available in Sainsbury’s!
I am talking about Riya’s Original Recipe Plant-Based Paneer. This particular vegan paneer was inspired by a dairy intolerance. However, even more, interesting is the fact that this vegan paneer actually does not contain tofu, which I thought it would.
Instead, its ingredients are:
Water, Rapeseed OIl, Yellow Pea Concentrate, Vinegar, Calcium Sulfate, and Transglutaminase.
While it is a vegan paneer, it is made in a factory that handles milk and dairy products, so there is a cross-contamination risk.
If you’d rather have a tofu-based paneer, you can shop online at the naturalgrocery.co.uk store and purchase Herby4 Firm Pressed Tofu Paneer. It can be used as tofu or as a paneer replacement, all you need to do is chop it into cubes, add flavor in a marinade and then add to your dish!
What Is Vegan Paneer Made Of?
Tofu is often used as a paneer substitute, however, if you are not a big fan of tofu, you can always enjoy other options such as Roya’s Original Plant-Based Paneer. This one and another vegan paneer it is often made from pea protein.
The two most common ways in which a paneer dish can be made vegan is with either tofu or pea protein replacements. Honestly, as great and versatile as tofu can be, when I decided to try out both of these options, I personally found that the pea protein version was better.
Does Paneer Have a Dairy?
Paneer does contain dairy as it is a type of cheese, this type of cheese actually is more like a curd than a cheese as it does not melt when added to dishes.
Paneer is dairy and as such, it is not suitable for vegans or those with a dairy intolerance.
Is Paneer Tofu?
As similar as paneer and tofu look, they are totally different foods. Paneer is a type of cheese, but tofu is made from soy. Both tofu and paneer are vegetarian sources of calcium and protein. However, paneer is not vegan-friendly, but tofu is.
Is Paneer Healthy?
Paneer does have a very high nutritional value, making it good for your health. It provides you with selenium, calcium, and potassium. It also has a higher protein content, so it is suitable for vegetarians.