27 February, 2023
Labneh – A staple dip served at Lebanese restaurants

Labneh is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and is a core dish that can be served at breakfast, lunch or dinner – and even as a snack. Labneh is a light, refreshing and rather delicious soft dip made from strained yoghurt that has been a part of traditional Lebanese cuisine for a long time. It is an ancient food loved by many Middle Eastern countries and is now served all over the world, especially Lebanese restaurants in Sydney.

Its versatility is what makes it great.

How to make labneh like the Lebanese restaurants you love

Making labneh doesn’t take much effort. The beauty of this dish is that for something so tasty, it does not require as much labour as one might think. Every Lebanese village, or family, has its tradition, and it can be made in a variety of ways. Here is one of the most straightforward techniques used to make labneh:

  1. Take freshly made yoghurt, ideally made from raw milk and mix in a sprinkle of salt.
  2. Line a colander with cheesecloth and set it over a large bowl pouring in the yoghurt mixture.
  3. Leave it to strain for at least 24 hours.
  4. It’s as simple as that. Your labneh is ready to eat. If you like, you can also mix in your favourite herbs and spices such as garlic, chilli or dill.
  5. Once you have made it, you can keep it for up to two weeks (if refrigerated). If you want to preserve it for longer, you can form it into balls and preserve it in olive oil, where it will keep for months.

History of Labneh

The history of labneh can be quite difficult to pinpoint. While no one knows exactly where it originated, what we do know is that cheeses made from strained yoghurt have been eaten in the Levant (modern-day Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Israel) for thousands of years. The popularity of this dish proliferated with many different cultures adopting it and creating their unique version. The main difference between different types of labneh is usually the choice of milk and whether it is eaten fresh, dried or preserved in olive oil.

How to eat Labneh

Labneh can be enjoyed in a variety of different ways. However, the most popular way is for it to be eaten similarly to hummus. Labneh also tastes great alongside fresh bread, fried kibbeh or falafel balls. 

If placing labneh on the breakfast, lunch or dinner table, the best way to serve it is in small plates with ridges or little bowls. You can not forget to drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil. Some people also like to sprinkle za’atar (oregano and thymy mix) on top or mix it with finely chopped cucumbers, onions, olives and tomatoes. 

Sample any banquet in Lebanese restaurants in Sydney, and you’ll find labneh included, especially at Zahli – homemade with our own modern twist.

Health benefits

Not only is labneh delicious, but it is also quite healthy for you! It is high in protein and is considered a probiotic food. This means it is high in a range of healthy bacteria that help boost your immune system. Probiotics are linked to a variety of benefits and could aid in treating and preventing many different digestive diseases. Similar to other types of cheese, labneh is rich in protein with above 5g per every 28g. Protein is an essential part of our diet, assisting with immune function, tissue repair and beyond. 

This dish is also low in calories and high in beneficial bacteria, protein and calcium – which are essential for your health. 

At Zahli, we serve a range of traditional Middle Eastern dips including hummus, baba ghannouj and the famous labneh! Our chefs combine traditional Lebanese flavours with a modern touch, giving them a new lease of life in a fresh, contemporary environment.

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