While others may call drained yoghurt as Labneh, I have always made it myself and began calling it Thick Thick Yoghurt all those years ago, before I had ever heard of Labneh and before labneh became trendy.
It is a versatile product that can be used in a multitude of savoury and sweet ways. Salt it and add spices to use as a spread, dip, dressing or filling. Serve with wedges of toasted pita bread. Sweeten it a little (or not) and use it with fruits, jam, on scones, on toast and jam and it is a great alternative to cream.
Countries from India through the Middle East and into the Mediterranean make and use thick thick yoghurt. This dish is one that uses golpar, that tangy, slightly tart powder made from Persian hogweed. Speaking in terms of traditional medicine, the use of golpar with yoghurt counteracts the cold property of yoghurt. You can buy it from Middle Eastern, Afghan and some Asian groceries. You can substitute some grated lemon rind – it is a different flavour but will still be very very good.
Use this as a mezze dish, a dip, with tomatoes and cucumbers (and radishes), a spread in a sandwich or wrap, slavered over baked vegetables, in place of sour cream.
Zaatar and Walnut Labneh | Thick Thick Yoghurt
250g thick thick yoghurt
2 Tblspn extra virgin olive oil
2 – 3 sticks finely chopped celery
50g walnuts, finely chopped
1 Tblspn zaatar (also good with dried Greek Oregano – but it must be the Greek variety, often labelled Wild Oregano) – reserve a little for garnish
1 tspn golpar powder
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the thick thick yoghurt in a mixing bowl, and mix in the remaining ingredients. If the yoghurt is too thick, liven it with a little fresh yoghurt or cream, or even with a little whey reserved from the draining.
Beat together to form a thick paste. Garnish with reserved zaatar and a little more olive oil. Keep covered in the fridge. It will last about a week.
recipe notes and alternatives
Use spring onion (scallion) instead of or as well as celery – 1 finely chopped.
Use pistachios instead of walnuts.