Cheese Shanklish and its popular Salad
We tend to claim the Cheese Shanklish as being a Levantine dish, although the name is neither Arabic nor Phoenician. In fact, the Shanklish was brought to us by the Kurds who settled in the North of Lebanon in ancient times.
Shanklish is a Kurdish term for “milk fermented in a terracotta bowl”. It is the only cheese in our cuisine that is fermented. In the Armenian Cuisine, it is called surquig.
Shanklish Cheese contains the least fat among all other cheeses, with a merely 5% fat, and an excellent nutritious value of 35% Proteins.
The Shanklish is a hard fermented cheese that is coated with Zaatar and several spices. It is consumed as a salad with onions, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and fresh tomatoes and parsley.
In my personal culinary opinion, this cheese needs these fresh vegetables to smooth down its strong taste and refresh it, even with the no-spicy version.
Lebanese Northern restaurants almost always serve it with their Mezza Menu. In other regions, it comes on demand.
The Recipe for 2 pounds of Whole-Milk Yogurt
- Over medium heat, cook the Whole-Milk Yogurt until curds start forming at the surface.
- Remove it, and proceed with the instructions of the Main Labneh Recipe, pouring the yogurt into the toweled sieve or a calico bag.
- Store it covered in the fridge for 72h or 3 days.
- Prepare the mixture of spices, mixing 1/2 tbsp of each of the following spices: Thyme, Cardamon, Cumin, Allspice, Salt, Oregano, Coriander, Nutmeg, and Cinnamon.
- Remove the Labneh from the fridge into a bowl, and mix it well with half the spice mixture
- Cover a tray with a thick layer of kitchen paper-towels.
- Form large balls of the Labneh, place them on the tray and back in the fridge for 3-4 days, or until dry and hard. Make sure to change the layer of kitchen paper-towels if they are all soaked during that passive period of time.
- Remove the Cheese Balls from the fridge, coat them with the remaining spices, and store them back in the fridge, well covered.
Shanklish Salad Recipe for 2 portions or 1 Mezza plate
- In a plate, break the Shanklish Cheese in crumbs or very small pieces
- Cover with a layer of 1/2 small onion, red or white, thinly chopped
- Follow with a layer of 1/2 medium tomato, cut in small dices
- Add 3 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Top it with 2 tbsp of thinly chopped fresh parsley (optional)
To be eaten with soft Lebanese bread… and enjoyed with a glass of Arak for those who love our local booze. Cheers!