Tourist Tip #242 / Labneh

You can even make this this rich, tangy Middle Eastern cheese in your hotel room.

Debra Kamin
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Debra Kamin

Israel is a land that loves its dips, and there are options beyond hummus. One of the most popular dips in the land is labneh (also pronounced labaneh), a beloved white and creamy yogurt cheese.

Made by straining the liquid out of yogurt until it takes on a consistency close to that of a soft cheese, labneh tastes a lot like a tart sour cream or heavy Greek yogurt. 

In much of the Middle East, labneh is most commonly served as a dip for warm pita, sprinkled with fresh herbs and finished with a squeeze of lemon and a healthy dribble of olive oil. The oil takes an edge off the cheese's tangy taste and also acts as a natural preservative. Labneh is in fact often sold in the form of small white balls immersed in olive oil.

But there’s no need to limit yourself: Labneh is just as divine as a breakfast food, eaten with a heap of honey and some fresh fruit.

You can even easily make labneh at home or in your hotel room. All you need is a clean T-shirt, string, 4 cups of yogurt (best to use 3% to 7% fat), juice of half a lemon and one teaspoon of salt. Mix the yogurt, salt and lemon in a bowl. Now form a bag out of the T-shirt, pour in the mixture, and using the string, hang it over the sink. Let it drip in peace for at least a few hours and as long as 24 hours; you'll get a cup and a half to two cups of the dip. The longer you wait, the thicker the labneh. Decant from the T-shirt into a container and store in the mini-fridge.

Labaneh.Credit: Dan Peretz
Arugula and labneh dip.Credit: Vered Guttman

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