Labneh b’Toom (Strained Yoghurt with Garlic)

It looks like cream cheese but in fact is strained yoghurt, the better quality the yoghurt, the better taste you get. Although Labneh is one of the traditional Lebanese breakfast dishes, it is becoming more and more popular as part of the mezza. When I took my visiting Irish friends to a Lebanese restaurant they liked it so much that they asked for the recipe which gave me the idea to include it in this section. It is very easy to make and not time consuming at all, though you need to prepare it the night before.

Serves 4-6


  • 500g/ 1lb 2oz tub of good quality yoghurt (usually called Greek Yoghurt)
  • About 1tsp salt
  • 2 large fat cloves of garlic.
  • Leaves of 1 small sprig of mint. Alternatively ½ tsp of dried mint
  • 1 fat black olive for garnish
  • Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle.

You also need a cotton bag (such as a white pillowcase) in order to drain the mixture overnight


  1. Mix yoghurt with salt then tip it into the bag. Tie the bag and hang over a bowl or on the tap over the sink, so all the excess liquid is drained which usually takes about 12 hours. You should end up with the consistency of cream cheese.
  2. Transfer the strained yoghurt into a bowl scrapping off all the sticky bits. It should be smooth and spreadable, like a clotted cream. If you think it is too stiff add a little water, taste and adjust if necessary. Keep in the fridge
  3. When you are ready to serve, peel and smash the garlic to a paste then mix with the labneh adding the dried mint if you prefer. Transfer to a serving dish. Decorate with the black olive in the middle, if using the fresh mint chop it up and sprinkle over, finish off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Serve with Lebanese bread, try it also toasted.