When I started grocery shopping in Doha, I noticed that the dairy section here looks a little different than in the states. While they do have fresh milk, right next to it is fresh laban. (So make sure you pick up milk, and not laban when shopping! I made that mistake once!) What is laban you might ask? It’s a type of sour milk.
According to Almarai, a manufacturer here in the Middle East, here is a better definition. Laban is a cultured milk and dates back to
Arabian tribal times when milk was preserved by mixing fresh raw milk with yesterday’s fermented milk. Left to ferment naturally it was found to last longer and taste good.
Sounds kinda gross right? I have not tried it, so I cannot say. So I assumed that labneh, a type of cheese spread was similar.
A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine brought an appetizer to one of our get togethers. It was labneh, zatar (a spice) and olive oil, which you then spread on pita and enjoy. They had taken a hiking trip to Lebanon, and this was served in each and every house they went to, so they felt obligated to try it. After trying it, they realized how good it was!
Zatar is a really interesting spice that is used often here in the Middle East. According to gourmet sleuth.com, it is a mix of sesame with sumac and dried thyme. It is used in many variations here – on flatbreads, as a seasoning for barbecued meats, etc.
The labneh is much more like a cream cheese than sour cheese, so it tastes quite delicious! Dave and I like to mix up our labneh, zatar, and olive oil into a dip, and still serve with pita. It’s really yummy!
This is not really a food blog by any means, but I want to post recipes of regional foods when I discover something good that I otherwise would not have tried. So I took a few pictures last time I made this dip, and thought I would post the recipe here 🙂 Enjoy!
So first, the ingredients – pretty simple! Zatar, Labneh, Olive Oil and some pita.
You can serve these three separately if you choose, but we like to mix it all together. Here is it just before the mixing stage.
Finally, the finished product! This is such an easy and yummy appetizer – hope you try it sometime! You should be able to find the Zatar in the spice aisle, and the labneh will be in the refrigerated section.
Special thanks to my friend Kira, who introduced me to this new combination of flavors! 🙂