Mark Hix on how to make Middle Eastern cheese labneh at home and keep it as a snack

Mark Hix
This strained yogurt is a Middle Eastern delight

You have probably had labneh in Middle Eastern restaurants as a part of a mezze selection, but have you tried actually making it yourself at home? I'm a big fan and quite often have it hanging in my fridge. It's a really tasty and cheap alternative to a soft goats cheese or curd.

It's a dead simple thing to make and used in all sorts of dishes; for breakfast, put it with berries and honey; for lunch, simply have it scattered with broad beans, mint and olive oil; or, for dinner, have some on the side of crispy lamb, onions and pomegranate.

This dish below is from my friend Clare Lattin’s new Ducksoup Cookbook. You may have been to Ducksoup in Soho or Raw Duck in Hackney, which serves lots of interesting dishes like this from around the world.

Read more: Mark Hix feeds ten with a single trout

If you want to make Labneh at home, whisk in one teaspoon of salt to every 500g of full-fat natural Greek yoghurt (don’t be tempted to use a fat-free version, as it won’t be the same).

Pour the mixture into cheesecloth suspended over a bowl (you can also use a large coffee filter) to allow the excess liquid to drip through. Depending on how thick you want your labneh, leave it overnight for medium-firm or three days for super-firm.

Read more: Mark Hix has eaten piranha and heartily recommends it

If you leave your labneh it will become firm enough to roll into small balls. You can then preserve them in olive oil and herbs. Simply add the balls to a jar and pour over enough extra-virgin olive oil to cover them.

Tear in plenty of fresh herbs (chives, dill, flat-leaf parsley, chervil) and that’s it. Dip into the jar at any time of day – the labneh is delicious spread on to charred sourdough with some salt and pepper.

Then simply enjoy it as a snack or even a light cheese course.

Crispy Lamb, Labneh, Mint, Red Onion & Pomegranate


I think the combination of ingredients here makes a near perfect salad – there is just enough (but not too much) crispy meat to give the dish depth and that umami flavour, and pairing it with the cool labneh, fresh mint, onion and pomegranate seeds keeps the flavours clean and fresh. Lamb breast is a great, cheap cut but you can also use any leftover lamb shoulder you might have from another recipe you’ve cooked at the weekend. This works as a starter dish or main course salad, or as part of a sharing feast.


  • 1 whole lamb breast, about 2kg, cut in half
  • 500ml lamb stock
  • 1 pomegranate
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • Small handful of mint leaves
  • Small handful of flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 160g labneh
  • Preheat the oven to 160°C / gas 6.

Season the lamb breast with salt and pepper and put into a large roasting tray.

Pour over the lamb stock, cover tightly with foil and cook in the oven for 2–3 hours, or until the meat easily comes away from the bone.

Once cooked remove the lamb breasts from the stock and allow cooling. Keep the lamb stock as you can use it another day – simply pour into small tubs and freeze.

While the lamb cools, remove the seeds from the pomegranate by cutting it in half and then holding over a bowl, cut side down on your spread palm.

Hit the back of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon or rolling pin so that the seeds drop out into the bowl. If you have trouble try turning the half inside out and gently coaxing the remaining seeds out with your fingers.

Once the lamb breast is cool enough to handle remove all the meat from the bones in large chunks and set aside.

Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a generous glug of oil. Add the chilli flakes and then fry the lamb until nice and crisp, giving it a pinch of salt as it cooks.

When the lamb is crisp transfer to a large bowl. Tear in the mint and parsley and add the sliced onion.

Squeeze in the lemon juice, add another good splash of olive oil and half the pomegranate seeds and season with salt and pepper.

Toss everything together with your hands and then gently coax the salad out of the bowl with your fingers on to individual plates.

Spoon a dollop of labneh on to a third of the plate, and finish by scattering the entire dish with pomegranate seeds. Serve with chargrilled flatbread or toasted sourdough.

Ducksoup Cookbook: The wisdom of simple cooking by Clare Lattin and Tom Hill is on sale now for £25, published by Square Peg £25