Sunday, January 31, 2010

Labna bi Zayt (Yogurt Balls Marinated in Olive Oil)

Labna (alternately spelled labneh,labne,and laban) has been a basic food of the Middle East for centuries.It usually accompanies or is an ingredient in many Middle Eastern dishes.Labna bi Zayt is the result of yogurt that has been drained until it is quite firm and dry and is manually shaped into small balls and marinated in oil.Labna bi Zayt can be enjoyed as part of a mezze or as a popular snack called arus "the bride", which is a warm pita bread with labna and sprinkled with zaatar.

Labna bi Zayt is easy to make but is very time consuming and once I show you the recipe you'll see why.If you prefer, you can purchase it at any well-stocked Middle Eastern grocer or as I did this past weekend at an Armenian market.Mine was imported from Syria.Below is a 2 part recipe for Labna bi Zayt.

Recipe for Labna(Yogurt)
5 c whole milk
1 Tbsp. plain yogurt(starter)

1.Bring the milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Then, as the froth rises, turn off the heat, then allow to cool where it is slightly warm.

2.Put the plain yougurt (starter) in a small bowl and stir 2-3 Tbsp. of the warm milk into it. Beat this mixture into evely combined and then pour back into the milk in saucepan.

3. Stir the milk for about 1/2 a minute then pour it into a bowl and cover with a paper towel.

4. Put bowl in a warm place and leave overnight (8+ hours) to rest.

5.After the 8+ hours, transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and it's ready to eat or be used for another recipe.

Recipe for Labna bi Zayt (Yogurt balls Marinated in Olive Oil)
4 c full-fat plain yogurt
1 tsp. salt
extra-virgin olive oil
2 Muslin bags
large glass jar

1. Mix the yogurt with salt and stir to remove any visible lumps.
2. Put the 2 muslin bags together and scoop the yogurt into the center of it and tie an the ends and suspend over a large bowl overnight(8+ hours) letting the whey drip out.Scrape the contents of the bag every so often to facilitate draining.
3. After the 8+ hours are up, remove the cheese from the muslin bag and crumble unto a paper towel-lined baking sheet or tray.
4.Refrigerate yogurt until it feels firm and dry.
5.When desired texture is reached,lightly oil your hand with olive oil and roll yogurt into 1"diameter balls.
6. Put the labna inside a jar when finished and cover fully with olive oil.Refrigerate before and after opening.
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  1. The olive oil is great not only for the health but for the the skin too, because have many antioxidants properties.Some investigations say that can improve the sexual life of peoples who consume olive oil. Only in the cases when the problem is very advanced is necesary to buy viagra but is good take care of us when we have the tools.

  2. Bless my Father...he learned to make Lebna and other things while working and living in middle east for 15 years. He embraced the culture and people with passion. I love middle eastern/north african cuisine. I can recall the wonderful smells of spices in the souk. Truly appreciate my expeiences.