When it comes to preparing food, there are some things that seem really simple, yet produce such great results that it’s almost like magic. This includes the simple process of straining yoghurt to remove the liquid. Labneh, the Middle Eastern and Asian equivalent of our soft cheese, is super easy to prepare overnight in your fridge at home.
All you need is a large pot of natural yoghurt, a fine-mesh sieve and material such as linen or terry towelling. Moisten the material, use it to line the sieve, and place it over a bowl. Then put the yoghurt into the sieve, cover it with clingfilm, and weigh it down with a plate.
It’s best to start this process in the evening, then the water will slowly drain out of the yoghurt overnight, leaving a firm creamy mass that you can then use in all manner of ways. One option is to make little balls which you can then roll in roasted sesame seeds or chopped pistachios and add to a salad.
Or you can stir in herbs and spices like oregano, pepper, coriander or cumin to make soft cheese – seasoned to suit your own taste. This goes perfectly with flatbread or focaccia. And another tip for adding spices: I make my favourite labneh by adding lemon zest and roasted aniseed and fennel seeds from the very start to give it an intense fresh flavour.