Labneh

Labneh

Quantity: 4 cups (1 L)

Labneh, also known as Laban, the word for yogurt in Arabic, it is a sour, and creamy cheese  which is ever present on the Middle Eastern table. Its high content of fat makes it ideal for cooking – it will not curdle at high temperatures.

It can also be served on its own as an appetizer – sprinkled with some olive oil and herbs and accompanied by some pita bread – a real delight! A spoon or two of Labneh is a great contrasting sidekick to sweet and savory dishes.

A popular culinary tradition in the Middle East, Turkey, Greece, many Balkan countries, Georgia and Armenia is the Mezze (Greek: mezethes, Turkish: meze, Arabic: muqabbilat). The word and many of the dishes are of Persian origin, where “maze” means “snack”. It is the eastern Mediterranean version of the Spanish “tapas”, a selection of small dishes taken as an appetizer or, if served in a wide variety, as a whole meal.

If you do not have access to Labneh, you can easily make your own:

  • Add salt to Greek yogurt, or European-style thick yogurt and whisk it to a smooth consistency. Use about 1 teaspoon salt for 4 cups (1 L) yogurt.
  • Put a sterile cloth in a strainer over a large pot and pour in the salted yogurt.
  • Let the whey strain through the cloth for about 24 hours. Make sure the pot is deep enough so the whey does not reach the bottom of the strainer. A more efficient way is to tie up the four corners of the cloth and suspend it over the pot. The weight of the yogurt will extract the whey much better.
  • Remove the cloth and – voilà – there is the Labneh!

Labneh should be kept under refrigeration and consumed within a week after preparation.

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