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Blog Archive Entry

Goat Milk is King

This entry is dedicated to my cousins Dina and Yasmin (aka Rita), my Aunt Kiki and the rest of the family who showed me such an amazing time while I was visiting the Middle East, shukran jazeelan!!

In the Middle East, goat milk is king. It’s rich and tangy, and has a lot less lactose than cow milk. Although I don’t use goat milk in my cereal or for dunking cookies, when it comes to cooking, goat milk is phenomenal. I find it has a much deeper and sharper taste than cow’s milk, and it adds an authentic flavor when used in Middle Eastern recipes.

While I was travelled in the Middle East, I enjoyed strolling through the different outdoor markets (souks) and admiring how store owners were true artisans of their culinary crafts. It was just as I remembered it in Aladdin, only it was real and even more chaotic. Markets were divided into categories such as meats, spices, nuts, dairy and so forth, creating the perfect competition necessary for bargaining.

a peak into the future

Every morning my aunt and I enjoyed a variety of mezze while watching her favorite news anchor read the daily horoscope. A few of the neighbors would stop by for Turkish coffee, served with a side of gossip, and they took turns reading each others coffee cups. This is a popular pastime among women in the Middle East.

Aside from all the amazing memories I’ve created from my travels, I also made sure to inquire about every single recipe that crossed my plate. Labne, which is essentially strained yogurt, was one of those recipes. Making the yogurt from scratch with the freshest goat milk will yield a more authentic product, but this recipe is versatile and adapts well to regular cow’s milk, or even sheep’s milk.

from milk to yogurt

If you are in need of a (relatively quick) labne fix, you could always strain store-bought plain yogurt. And if you could get your hands on goat yogurt, even better. However, for the food aficionados and for those those looking for some culinary therapy, take the scenic route and make your own yogurt at home.

Once you’ve made your yogurt as directed on the package of your preferred yogurt starter, refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

straining the yogurt

I gave up on cheese cloths a long time ago and started using a clean undershirt to strain my yogurt. It’s a lot cheaper, it’s reusable and you could fit a lot more yogurt per batch. However you decide to strain your yogurt is up to you, but make sure to stir salt into the yogurt before setting aside to strain (approximately ½ tsp. of salt per cup of yogurt).

labne (لبنة)

Labne (strained yogurt)

(yields approx. 2½ cups)


  • 2 quarts of milk, preferably goat
  • 10 g. yogurt starter (2 packs)
  • 4 tsp. salt (½ tsp. per cup of yogurt)
  • dried mint
  • Hungarian paprika
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • toasted pita bread or pita chips

Putting them all together

  1. Make yogurt as instructed by the package and refrigerate.
  2. Stir salt into yogurt and pour into your straining cloth of choice.
  3. Strain for approximately 12 hours or until you’ve reached a sour cream consistency.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. To plate, sprinkle with dried mint, Hungarian paprika and drizzle with your best extra virgin olive oil. Serve with pita bread or pita chips.


Posted in appetizers, Middle Eastern, recipe, savory by Antonio Tahhan on March 26th, 2008. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Goat Milk is King”

HoneyB Says:

Interesting post Antonio! Yes, I am north of you a few hours. We are located on near the St. Lawrence River.

stefano Says:

Complimenti per il tuo bellissimo blog, ti ho scoperto tramiteil cavoletto…passerò spesso di qui e ti metterò tra i miei link!

Utah Wedding Catering Says:

some of that stuff looks quite good 😀 I wana visit the Middle East… ever since I saw Aladdin Ive wanted to go.

Chuck Says:

I have always wanted to make my own yogurt. So, thank you for the instructions. Great post!

Tempting! Links to Fabulous Food and Terrific Hints « A Life (Time) of Cooking Says:

[…] Tahhan takes us through the process of making yoghurt from goat’s milk, and then turning it into […]

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