01 June 2009

Labane 2

I first encountered labane in a small cafe in Gaziantep, Turkey. The owners of the start-up business were excellent hosts. They made us a delicious herbal tea (their own mixture) and served flatbread with labane. They made the kind of labane that I described in the previous post, the creamy type laced with garlic and herbs. It was love at first taste.

Then, a few years later, I re-discovered labane in Nazareth, Israel where it is almost ubiquitous at Arab meals. They would spread their labane in a dish, drizzle it with olive oil, and sprinkle za'atar on top. My North American roommate and I kept it in our fridge at all times. It was in Israel that I also encountered the type of labane that has had more of the liquid strained off. This kind can be rolled into balls and kept in olive oil. This is my "Labane 2" attempt.

I strained the yogurt for three days this time instead of just one day. You can see that the labane is drier, clumping together more than in "Labane 1".

I rolled the labane into little balls the size of walnuts. It was actually difficult because it was still quite "sticky". I should have let it strain longer, but we were leaving for Illinois the next morning at 4:30 am, and I was taking the labane as a host gift. So . . . At this point the labane was at room temperature, and refrigerating it probably would have made it easier to work with. I used this jar, adding a few peppercorns and a bay leaf. I poured olive oil over each "layer" to eliminate air bubbles.

A few days later in Illinois I taught my sister-in-law and her children how to make pita. We used some of the labane as a topping for the flatbreads. At dinner, her husband exclaimed: "You made these!?! They look store-bought!" We're taking that as a compliment.

More later on pita . . .

Cook's Word: Refrigerate the labane before rolling. In fact, as summer approaches, refrigerating it the whole time it strains is probably a good idea. For myself, I might just stick with Labane 1. It requires a lot less olive oil, and we'll end up smearing it on bread anyway!


  1. I'm enjoying your blog! This taste tester says your lebane is awesome and that I need to make some more flatbread so I--I mean we--can finish it off. :)

  2. I'm glad you're enjoying it! I've got to make another batch of yogurt so I can turn some into labane again. Let me know how your first solo batch of flatbread turns out!