Home-made shankleesh

Home-made shankleesh

By
From
New Feast
Makes
4
Photographer
Alan Benson

Unlike the broader repertoire of fresh white Middle Eastern cheeses, shankleesh is mould-ripened and aged, which gives it a very distinctive and pungent flavour. Essentially, it’s labneh taken to the extreme by further drying, salting and adding a bacterial culture. After washing, the cheese is mixed with and then rolled in spices such as za’atar, aniseed, sumac, Aleppo pepper and very hot chilli flakes. The texture and flavour both develop with age: it becomes crumblier and dryer – some shankleesh are so pungent they can knock your socks off!

Shankleesh doesn’t look like much, it’s true – more like a grubby and misshapen baseball than anything you’d want to eat. But, rather like blue cheese, it’s a taste that, once acquired, is hard to shake off. This is our homage to shankleesh and, although it’s made by blending, rather than ageing, which gives it a creamier texture, we reckon it is surprisingly true to the spirit of the original. Shankleesh is usually eaten as a salad, but we eat it as we would any sharp blue cheese: with warm crusty bread or on toast, sprinkled onto soups or into salads, or even mashed with hard-boiled eggs or whipped up with mashed potatoes.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
100g french-style goat’s cheese, roughly chopped
100g feta, crumbled
70g greek-style yoghurt
1 tablespoon sumac
1 tablespoon za’atar
1 teaspoon turkish red chilli flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
4 teaspoons dried oregano

Method

  1. Combine the goat’s cheese and feta in a mixing bowl. Add the yoghurt and spices and mix together thoroughly. It should be fairly smooth, but retain a certain ‘chunkiness’. Scrape into a bowl, cover and chill for around 12 hours, or until the mixture has firmed up.
  2. Tip the mixture out onto a work surface and divide into 4 even portions. With lightly oiled hands, roll each into a rough ball and coat lightly in the dried oregano. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  3. Home-made shankleesh has a softer texture than the commercially made variety which means you break it into small lumps, rather than crumble it.

Note:

  • You can also buy vacuum-packed shankleesh in Middle Eastern stores.
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