On the day I made my classic hummus and served it with sourdough crackers to my family’s delight (sourdough baked goods have been a big hit!), I realized that almost everyone knows about hummus, but few have even heard of labneh, let alone try it!
Since about four years back, I did a grave injustice to this phenomenal, no-fuss delight (I included a short, short labneh balls recipe in my pumpkin cranberry crackers blog that barely touched its wonders) I thought it was finally time to give it its due.
And here we are with a homemade Labneh recipe..
So, what is labneh?
Labneh is a luscious Middle Eastern traditional specialty that transforms strained yogurt into delicious fresh cheese. It has a thick creamy texture and a relatively mild flavor. When you have it for the first time, you’ll feel the familiar hint of yogurt’s sourness in it.
How to Make Labneh At Home?
Labneh is ridiculously easy to make (and that’s why the mind boggles that so few people know about it)! There is no strict guideline to make it, but a few tricks do help get that creamy, dense consistency inherent to labneh.
You take a fine-mesh strainer and spread a cheesecloth on it. Place the sieve on a large bowl and then spoon yogurt mixed with salt on the colander. Put the entire shebang in the fridge and leave it for a day.
Slowly all the whey in the yogurt drips out and collects in the bowl below. Over the hours, you’ll notice that the yogurt becomes firmer with an almost cheese-like texture.
That’s labneh – extra, extra strained tangy yogurt!
Always use full-fat plain yogurt to make labneh, and you’ll get phenomenal results. I used homemade yogurt, but you can utilize Greek yogurt too. How thick your labneh is, depends upon how long you drain it. Sometimes I let it strain for more than a day, and it becomes so thick that I can roll it into balls like I did while serving my pumpkin cranberry crackers. So, pick your preference.
If you don’t have a cheesecloth, a muslin works as well. A kitchen napkin or a large coffee filter are great substitutes too.
There is no need to send the whey (the liquid collected in the bowl) down the drain. It is full of proteins that are fabulous for your health. You can drink it (it’s actually quite lovely), you can bake bread with it, and you can even add it to your roti or parantha dough!
Labneh stays good for 10 or so days if you keep it refrigerated, but if you want it to last longer, roll it into balls, and put it in a jar filled with olive oil.
How to Serve Homemade Labneh?
When it comes to pairing, labneh can be served with practically anything. You can use it as a creamy spread over pita, crackers, or the more Indian option – paranthas.
It is a great short-cut to a full meal, especially during summer, when you don’t feel like sweating buckets in front of the stove. Simply layout some grilled chicken or paneer along with flatbreads and other ingredients for make-your-own rolls!
Labneh jazzed with crushed nuts or spices also makes for a stunning crudité centerpiece during a dinner party, and no one ever can guess that it’s laughably easy to make.
You can serve it plain as the dip of a mezze platter, too. It tastes just as delectable and tangy. If you want the traditional feel, drizzle olive oil, and some dried mint on it.
I took an extra step.
I whipped up my homemade labneh, sprinkled with sumac, and then dressed it up with mint, olives, and, ever my favorite, pomegranate arils for a pop of color. On top of this, I poured some olive oil, and we were ready to dig in!
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Homemade Labneh Recipe
- Sieve, Bowl, Kitchen napkin
- 2 cups Yogurt, full fat
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- Olive oil, Sumac, Mint, Pomegranate arils, Olives
- Keep a sieve, lined with a kitchen towel or muslin cloth, ready. Place this atop a bowl, to catch the whey.
- Mix the salt with yogurt.
- Pour into the prepared sieve. Cover with the napkin. Place in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
- Take the strained yogurt out. It should be very very thick.
- Whisk it a bit, spread out on a plate or a shallow bowl. Top with sumac, olives, mint, pomegranate arils and drizzle over some olive oil.
- Serve with pita, bread, crackers, veggies sticks etc. Enjoy!