Galilee Style Labane Balls

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Labaneh Balls

Here in the Galilee, you can find Druze families selling their homemade foodstuffs, roadside. This usually includes the region’s famous olive oil, cracked Suri olives packed in brine, and preserved balls of labane- a tart, savory yogurt, suspended in olive oil. 

This is my version of labane balls. Kept dry, and rolled in spices, they are a beautiful addition to any breakfast spread. Here they’re made from homemade Greek-style yogurt, but you could also skip the first step and strain about 4 cups store-bought whole fat yogurt, as a shortcut.

  • Duration
  • Prep Time
  • Makes 10, tablespoon sized ballsServings

Ingredients

  • 1-quart whole milk 
  • 1 tablespoon plain store-bought yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • Zaatar spice blend, sesame seeds, and/or sweet paprika for rolling (about two tablespoons each)

Preparation

1. Make the labane: In a medium pot, heat the milk until steaming (162F). Take off the heat, and let cool to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir in the yogurt, then immediately cover the pot, drape with a towel for insulation and place in the oven with JUST the light on. Let sit 12 hours (This is best done overnight).

2. After 12 hours, remove from the oven, Mix in the salt, and transfer the now yogurt to a fine mesh strainer placed over a bowl, and lined with cheesecloth or a very light, porous dish towel. Tie up the ends, and let strain in the fridge for 1 full day to extract as much liquid as possible.

3. Remove the yogurt from the fridge, and open up the cheese cloth. The yogurt should be firm enough to shape. If not, you can tie it back up, and let it continue to strain for a few more hours.

4. Place the spices and sesame seeds separately in small bowls, and fill a small bowl with water to wet your fingers for easier rolling.

Keep paper towels nearby to clean your hands in between balls.

Using a small tablespoon sized spring-loaded scoop, portion out the balls, one at a time. Coat in the spice of your choice, and place in a serving dish. Continue, alternating spices/coatings, until you have no more yogurt left. Keep loosely wrapped for up to two weeks in the fridge.