Friday, 18 August 2017

Topli na Paneer

Topli na Paneer
Silky cottage cheese

There is no literal transaltion for this phrase but best described as cottage cheese that is made in a basket called a topli. It is small enough for individual bites, soft enough to fall apart and has the impressions of little rings left behind from the wicker basket ~ topli.
Parsis love it enough to serve it in their wedding and navjote feast. This is a Mumbai speciality and not many of us who grew up in Karachi or away from India had even tried it. With social media becoming the tool to make us all of one world it has suddenly become the topic of the day.

After reading it up, asking a few of my elders and experimenting I have managed to get it right; (I think)!! With grateful thanks to friends who have sent me the toplis, custom made, I am sharing it with great happiness. It is delicious and most authentic as my taste testers from Mumbai and others have vouched.

Keep it simple, be precise and you cannot go wrong.

Traditionally served with a crushing of freshly ground rock-salt, I have served mine with Pink Himalayan Salt.
Isn't this a great way to serve up a party platter?

Topli nu paneer as an appetiser; served up with fig, fig jam jam, peppadews, honey comb and caramalised nuts and crackers.

Will make 8 Toplis or 8 servings.
1 litre whole buffalo milk (organic grassfed 8%)
10 drops of veg rennet or alternate 
1/4 tsp salt

Bring the milk to a tepid warm. 
If you can keep your finger in the milk counting up to 10, its perfect.
Anything warmer and it will turn into grainy cottage cheese.
Add the rennet and salt. Give it 10 slow turns with a metal spoon.
Cover with a cloth.
Leave from minimum 3 hours to over night.
Place a thin cheese cloth or thin muslin over a seive.
Remove the chunks of the paneer on to the cloth and twist the top. Allow the liquid to drain for an hour or two. It will be ready to eat, soft and tender. 


While a stainless steel pot works best; do not use a non-stick pot.

Milk being the key ingredient will dictate how quickly and well it forms. I have used an Organic Water Buffolo grassfed milk from a glass bottle that shows it is 8% milk; available from natural food supermarkets.
The longer you keep it the harder it will become. 
If you need to leave it for a day or two, keep it in the cloth, in a tightly covered dish in the refrigerator.
Best enjoyed fresh.
Its called topli na paneer because of the little woven baskets in. I have just been gifted some from my wonderful aunt and friend from Mumbai but a seive will work just fine. It will only not "look'' like the original form.

1 litre of milk will make 8 baskets.

The paneer ladled into the baskets, draining the whey in the shallow pan in which they can be stored once overturned.

For more recipes from my Parsi Food cookbook click the link The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.

Readers comment
27th August 2017
Roxanne HaddrellLearn to Make Cheese
The paneer is wonderfully silky - a real delight! The salt in the recipe is spot on. One thing I'll do different next time is to chop my nuts - the whole almonds are a bit big. And yes, there WILL be a next time.


  1. maybe you can try using the small Dim sum baskets ?

  2. Yes that is a great idea Nazneen. I am trying to get by with small nylon seives. I will try both. Thank you.

  3. In eastern India (Bengal, Assam),this type of paneer is common, but it is usually made at home with lime or lemon juice or the liquid from previous batches. It is rarely eaten raw. Usually it's fried and used in savory dishes or cooked in other ways to make sweets.

  4. Your Topli Paneer is truly awesome and authentic what we had eaten as children in JB Karachi where an Indian guy used to come 2/3 times a week to sell Toplic Paneer in Large Tiffin Boxes with Saltish Liquid, and ate after decades made by you today April 04, 2018 and remembered the old carefree day's in Karachi ! Thank you Nilufer Mavalwala for your such a sweet and kind gesture, warm regards ~