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Cream cheese or Yogurt cheese of Lebanon (Labneh) June 9, 2008

Posted by live2cook in Pickles and Condiments, What we call it....
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9 comments

Every cuisine in the world has an ingredient or Dish that acts as a digestive aid. There will be a dish that acts as a coolant that stabilizes the body temperature. Yogurt acts as both a digestive aid and a coolant. Countries with hotter climate and spicier food tend to use Yogurt more. There are lots of recipes based on yogurt which are consumed in each course of a meal.

Labneh or Labni is a cheese made with Yogurt. Since it has the consistency of cream cheese it is also referred to as Cream Cheese of Lebanon. It is similar to Chakka of Indian Cuisine. For Labneh, the yogurt is strained through a cheese cloth until all the liquid is strained off. The milk solids that remain in the cheese cloth is served with olive oil or flavoured with other ingredients like lemon and used as a spread. I used mint leaves and minced black olives to flavour Labneh.

Ingredients:

3 cups Homemade or storebought yogurt ( I used yogurt made with skim milk)
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp chopped Mint leaves
2 Tbsp Minced Black Olives

Method:

1. Mix the salt and the yogurt.
2. Line a strainer with 2 layers of cheese cloth.
3. Pour the yogurt. Refrigerate and let it drain off the liquid over night.
4. Take the strained milk solids in a medium sized mixing bowl.
5. Add the mint leaves and the olives.
6. Mix well and use as a spread or refrigerate for later use.

The taste and texture of labneh was very good. The Mint leaves gave a refreshing scent to labneh. It is a nice and simple recipe to prepare and enjoy on a hotter day like this weekend (it was more than 90F here in Boston!) Do you Want to know what I did with labneh? Stay tuned…

Labni

This is my entry for the event Frozen yogurt hosted by Siri.

askfirstviolet64

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Veppilai Katti June 23, 2007

Posted by live2cook in Pickles and Condiments.
10 comments

Two days ago, I was all set with my post for this week’s alphabet “V” in Nupur’s A-Z of Vegetables event. The final proof reading and hitting the publish button were the things that I had to do. I decided that I will be doing it on Thursday evening after returning from work. But things drastically changed when I happened to see a wonderful set of photos.

At my work, they conduct a photography competition every year and the photos of the winners and the finalists will be used in the coming year’s calendar. They pick eligible photos through a poll. The final day for casting the vote was on Friday.

As always, I took a look at those photos with the intention that I might get some ideas on photography and it will be useful for my blog. There was a category “Photo essay” in which the contestants had expressed their views in 3 photos. One such essay caught my attention. They were very simple photos, A 90 year old Grand Mother and her grand child were the theme of the photos. The Grand child was sitting in the lap of the grandma and the 3 photos explained them enjoying their moment. The happiness in the grandma’s face and the feeling of warmth and comfort in the child’s face……

During the long drive back home, I was filled with the memories of my Grandma. The moments we spent together…especially helping her when she worked with the mortar and pestle (Ammikkal, ural) in our backyard… The unique recipes she prepared….The taste of her “Veppilai katti”….

I thought, wait! Wait! Wait! what was that? Hmmmmmmmm! … “Veppilai katti”. Wow! what a perfect recipe for “V” alphabet in A-Z of vegetables… But there is no vegetable in this….what to do…Green leafy items also fall under vegetables….Cool! and that was it.

The Plan changed, from that moment on, my entry was going to be “Veppilai Katti”. But wait! I did not remember how my grandma used to prepare it? I knew she used curry leaves and Naraththai(citrus) leaves. I did not know the complete recipe. With no hope and with grandma not around, I typed “Veppilai katti” in google and viola! there was one recipe!!! The recipe post gives very interesting explanation to the name.

I jumped into action and made some variation to the original recipe.

The recipe is:

1/2 cup Curry leaves
1/2 cup Kaffir lime leaves (Since Kaffir lime leaves have very strong citrus flavor than Indian lime leaves, I took equal amount as Curry Leaves)
2 tablespoons Ajwain seeds
1 tablespoon Dried Naraththai pieces (optional) (Since the recipe gets the aroma from Naraththai Leaves and they are not available in US, I used a small piece of the dried fruit)
1/4 cup Dried Red Chili pieces
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Asafetida
Juice of 1 Lime + 2 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon Jaggery
( I added jaggery to balance the hot and sour taste)

veppilai_katti_items

Method:

1. In a spice grinder, powder the Ajwain, Red chili pieces, salt, Asafetida and Jaggery.
2. Coarsely grind the Curry leaves, Dried Naraththai pieces (if using) and Lime leaves.
3. Mix the ground leaves and the spice powder.
4. Mix the Lemon juice.

I Pounded everything to the desired consistency in a Stone Mortar and Pestle.

veppilai_katti_Pounded

Keeping with the tradition, I shaped it to round.

Veppilai Katti

The Recipe yielded a lemon sized ball of “Veppilai Katti”. Use in small amounts as condiment. We can store it for months in refrigerator. “Veppilai Katti” aids in digestion.