What should we do with all the yogurt Munlik's nomad friends are producing for us these days? Well, let's see: we've enjoyed it plain, and then as a drink (Spiced Aryan), as well as a sauce for our kabobs (Tzatziki). Hmm, it's time for Xenia to shake the dust off her magic carpet here and take you away, with something she thinks you're really going to like.
Hold on tight, 'cuz I'm going to guide you on how to make your own batch of Labani. Zoom, lurch, oops! I think I heard someone's little voice cry out from the carpet tassels, to ask me what Labani is exactly. Let me back up a bit here, and well, pardon me, it's the simplest of delights. I say, for once you spread this smooth, yogurt cheese on your pita bread, you will decide that cream cheese just won't do anymore and you'll be coming back for more.
Labani literally means "drained yogurt" in the Middle East. Its delicate texture and tart taste make your tongue dance with delight, not to mention what your stomach will say and do, too, eh? Traditionally, it is eaten for breakfast, drizzled with olive oil and served with pitas, olives, and cucumber slices. It also makes a wonderful appetizer or snack. It may be prepared into herbed balls rolled in fresh mint, chopped parsley or freshly ground black pepper. Also try some sweet variations by adding finely chopped raisins, dates, blueberries, strawberries, finely chopped honeyed peanuts, or even a cinnamon-sugar blend. Keep the creative juices flowing and come up with your own way to serve up Labani, for I know each and every one of you has a creative bone inside of you to explore all the wonderful possibilities you can in the kitchen. With Gulf Wars just around the corner, I suggest testing out this recipe and packing some labani and pita bread in with your food supplies. To keep your labani from getting watery in your ice chest, may I suggest storage in a Mason jar, as plastic containers don't seal out water.
Note: 2 days of preparation
Day One: stir the salt into the yogurt gently and return to the refrigerator.
Day Two: Line a colander with 4 sheets of cheesecloth and pour the salty yogurt in. Gather up the corners of the cloth and tie with a cord. Suspend the cord over a bowl, to drain overnight or until the curd is firm. Do not squeeze but allow the whey to drain off and discard the whey. Untie the cord and open the cheesecloth out turn out onto a dish or into a covered container. The texture is akin to softened cream cheese, with slight curds but not like cottage cheese. Serve right away, store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Yield: about 1 quart (low-fat yogurt will produce a lower yield due to the high content of water).
Forever shimmying ~