Labneh, also known as strained yoghurt, has a delicate consistency between that of yoghurt and cheese. With middle eastern roots, it really is quite easy to make, which was a big surprise! Simply, it's yoghurt that has been strained to filter and remove the whey. It's often served as an accompaniment with bread or on sandwiches. It's something we've always wanted to make, so we set aside a weekend to make spiced labneh balls marinated in oil and rolled in roasted spices. We knew they would pair perfectly with Jason's yoghurt bread, so we've included his recipe as well. Full disclaimer, do not be afraid to try this recipe. All you need is a couple of days up your sleeve and actual preparation time is quick. The labneh balls last in the fridge for up to two weeks, and are great on crackers served with smoked ocean trout. Basically, they're balls of cream cheese packed with flavour!
For the labneh balls:
- 4 Cups or 1kg of plain full fat yoghurt. We used natural Greek Yoghurt.
- 2 Cups of olive oil
For the spice mix:
- 1 Tsp Chilli flakes
- 1/4 Cup Sesame seeds
- 2 Tsp Thyme flakes
- 2 Tsp Grout cumin
- 2 Tsp Salt
- 2 Tsp Ground onion
For the yoghurt flatbread:
- 1 1/2 Cup self raising flour
- 1 Cup plain yoghurt (we use Greek yoghurt)
- 1/4 Tsp Baking powder
- 100g Salted butter
- Extra flour for rolling into flatbread
- Sea salt
- Mortar and pestle
- Rolling pin
- Pastry brush
- Place a colander into a bowl, place the cheesecloth over the colander, and pour the yoghurt onto the cheese cloth. Squeeze the cheesecloth around the yoghurt to wrap it tightly and tie the excess fabric with an elastic band. Wring as much of the excess whey you can then place back in the colander, and put the bowl/colander into the fridge to drain any more excess whey for 24 hours.
- To make the labneh balls:
- Take the yoghurt, now labneh, out of the fridge and unwrap.
- Spoon a small amount into the palm of your hand, then shape it into a ball. The mixture is delicate so you'll end up with quite a bit of labneh on your hands.
- Place the balls into another bowl and cover with a good olive oil. Cover with a lid or cling wrap, and put in the fridge until ready to serve.
- They can stay in the fridge for at least two weeks.
- When ready to serve, take the labneh balls out of the olive oil. Roll the balls into the spices and cover completely.
- Pile onto a serving board.
- To make the spice mix:
- Place all of the spice ingredients into a pan and toast for 5 minutes or until the sesame seeds are light and golden.
- When the kitchen fills up with beautiful aromas, turn the heat off and transfer the spices into the mortar and pestle.
- Crush the spices together to blend but only do this for a minute or so. You don't want to crush the sesame seeds too much. Set aside to cool.
- To make the yoghurt bread:
- Mix the flour and yoghurt in a bowl using a spoon, then use your hands to bring everything together.
- Dust your kitchen bench with flour, then tip out the dough onto the surface.
- Knead the mixture for couple of minutes. If it feels wet, feel free to carefully add extra teaspoons of flour. You don't need to knead the bread for long, just until it's well combined.
- Melt the butter in a microwave for 20 seconds, set aside.
- Dust your kitchen bench and the rolling pin with flour. Divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 6 equal-sized pieces (roughly the size of a golf ball).
- With your hands, flatten the dough, then use a rolling pin to roll each piece until the dough is about 3mm thick. Don't worry about the shape, they don't need to be perfect or exactly the same.
- Warm a pan to medium heat.
- Brush one side of the flatbread with the melted butter and place in fry pan for 2 to 4 minutes until golden brown. Brush the other side of the flatbread with melted butter, flip over and repeat.
- Pile onto the serving board with the labneh balls.