Labneh: Lebanese cream cheese
Labneh is probably one of the absolute basics of Levantine cuisine. There is hardly a table without this delicious cream cheese. The basic recipe is not only incredibly versatile, but also incredibly easy to prepare.
All you need is yoghurt and a pinch of salt. Leave the yoghurt to drain overnight in a straining cloth - the next morning you have labneh. It's that simple 🙂
The funniest way to prepare labneh is definitely that of my mother. At some point she misplaced her straining cloth and searched all the drawers in the house. Nothing, no straining cloth. How nice that necessity is always the mother of invention.
So after searching half the flat, she disappeared again briefly into the kitchen and then returned to the living room with a mocha and a grin. "So, did you find the passport cloth?" I asked. She sipped her mocha cautiously and said quite smugly, "No, that passe cloth can stay wherever it's hiding!" and smiled at me. I thought we would have to do without the labneh this time, but with a movement of her head towards the kitchen and laughing eyes, she indicated that I should have a look.
Then, when I went into the kitchen, I saw the filter holder of the coffee machine standing folded out. When I got closer, there was a coffee filter inside - and yoghurt. Clever! I had to laugh, it was so simple. 😀
I also took a cup of the freshly brewed mocha and sat down with my mother again. We were drinking our mocha when we heard my brother from the kitchen: "Baaaa! What are you doing!!?" - My brother prefers to drink filter coffee....
As I said at the beginning - labneh is very versatile. Traditionally, the cream cheese is drizzled with a little olive oil and garnished with za'atar. It is always accompanied by fresh vegetables, pickled olives and, of course, fresh pita bread.
Za'atar, by the way, is a spice mixture of thyme, roasted sesame seeds, sumac and a pinch of salt. Za'atar is also served straight next to good olive oil. You dip your bread first in the oil and then in the zatar.
The spice mixture is firmly anchored in Lebanese cuisine and should not be missing from any larder. Whether with za'atar, garlic, fresh or dried herbs - labneh always tastes delicious!
- Straining cloth
- or a coffee filter 😉
- Put the yoghurt into the straining cloth and let it drain overnight in the refrigerator.
- Stir the labneh with a pinch of salt until creamy and serve.
- Serving tip: Labneh is classically served with a good drizzle of olive oil and za'atar.
Have you ever tried labneh with kafta?
By the way, labneh is also wonderful for baking. Try the lemon cake with labneh.
It also works with a sieve, lined with a piece of household paper!
Cool idea 😀
Nice site and thanks for this tip!
Thank you very much for your comment. I am very pleased that you like it here.
Assalamu aleikum @Rafik, first of all thank you for the easy labneh recipe, I won't miss this treat! 🤗
Question: instead of a straining cloth, could you also line a colander with a kitchen towel? That should work too...🤔
Love and massalama
Hey Charlotte 🙂
That's a very good idea with the strainer and the kitchen towel. That should definitely work as well 😀
I am the son of 2 Lebanese parents who emigrated to Argentina at the end of the 19th century. My mother was 5 and my father too. They were second cousins. They got married in 1925. My father's sister emigrated to Argentina relatively late Shafio was about 20 years old. Unlike my mother, she never left Lebanon, in her mind, and she often cooked Lebanese food: Bergul with lavin, malfuf, kepi, arish. She also often spoke Arabic with me, but not enough for me to learn. Labneh was lavin with us and it was eaten very liquid at that time. My aunt made it like this: A litre of milk was mixed with a spoonful of natural yoghurt and left at room temperature about 22 degrees for 12 hours or so.Then she put the lavin in the fridge. The next day she boiled bergul and served it to me in a soup plate and said. You mix a spoonful of the warm Bergul with a spoonful of the cold Lavin in your mouth. Hot/cold, Both tastes melted into each other, and so each time until both plates were empty....Till today.... I made labneh yesterday and drained it with a kitchen towel, overnight. Today at lunchtime my aunt was back.
Hello dear Miguel,
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. My heart goes out to you. My mother actually still makes her own yoghurt the same way as your aunt. And she still makes rennet out of it. I'm very happy that you like the recipe 🙂 .
One kilo cup of yoghurt 3.5%. Using a spoon, scoop out the centre of the stiff yoghurt to the bottom and pile the extracted mass around the tunnel. Turn out into a sieve and let about 250-350 ml of whey drip off within 6-12 hrs. Mix in half to one level teaspoon of salt. Then it's the hammer. Just like your site. Very awesome recipes. We love them! Thanks for that.
Thank you very much for your great feedback. I am really very happy 🙂