One of my favourite Middle Eastern breakfast staples is Labneh- creamy Labneh is similar to Greek yogurt but thicker in consistency and richer in flavor. It is made by straining yogurt to remove its whey, leaving behind a versatile ingredient with the consistency of cream cheese and the tang of yogurt. Labneh can be bought in Middle Eastern grocery stores, but it is also super easy to make at home. Making Labneh at home requires little to no experience, simply whisk together the two ingredients (yogurt and salt) and then let it drain overnight in a cloth-lined sieve. Twelve to 24 hours later, and the yogurt has thickened into something luscious and spreadable which makes for a fantastic, fancy looking dip, perfect for breakfast or for casual snacking.
To say the least, Labneh is super easy to make with the minimum ingredients. The best part is that you can flavor Labneh any way you like such as with za’atar, mint, sumac, olives, honey, and anything you desire. Another major plus to making Labneh is that it is really easy to preserve. Regular Labneh lasts 2-3 weeks in the fridge and if you strain it further, you will get a Labneh that you can roll into balls. Put these Labneh Balls in a jar and submerge them with olive oil and they will last a whole year in the fridge.
Today’s recipe is one of my favorite snacks and also makes a great appetizer for dinner parties or casual entertaining. For this Labneh recipe, I used regular plain yogurt instead of Greek yogurt but just keep in mind that this kind has more liquid in it and so it’ll take longer to reach the thick creamy consistency. I also used a piece of kitchen towel (Any sort of soft cotton fabric with fine weave would work!)
Labneh is beautifully versatile and easy to prepare. If you’re anything like me, I suspect that once you make it for the first time, you’ll be tempted to do it again and again!
- 4 cups yogurt (3% yogurt or any yogurt of your choice)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Olive oil and za’atar for serving (optional)
- Cheese cloth (I used Ikea’s soft cotton kitchen towel)
- Kitchen string
- Large bowl
- Large sieve
- Place a sieve over a deep bowl, and line with cheesecloth or other soft cotton fabric.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt and salt. Pour into the prepared sieve and cover the yogurt with the overlapping fabric.
- Let the yogurt drain for 6 to 7 hours to get a creamy Labneh (the longer, the thicker). For Labneh balls, drain the yogurt overnight.
- Once drained, flip the Labneh out into another bowl (discard the liquid/ whey).
- For Labneh balls, take about 1 tablespoon of Labneh and roll into smooth, round balls and place in a sterile, air tight jar covered with olive oil.
- Serve your Labneh with pita chips. Drizzle some olive oil and garnish with za’atar, sumac, dried herbs or ground nuts.