Laban (yoghurt) and labneh (strained yoghurt) are basic dairy products in Lebanese cuisine. Others are simple white cheeses, keshek (a fermented then dried mix of yoghurt and burghul, or cracked wheat) and other old cheeses like serdeleh, aambariss and darfyieh, somewhat forgotten but currently being revived.

aambariss

aambariss

Aambariss and serdeleh are actually the same thing but different names, both made of purely goat milk.  The process is : A 30-litre terra cotta serdeleh (or “jar” –Serdele is actually the name of the clay Jar originally ) is filled with fresh raw milk, some coarse salt is added and then the milk is left in the jar to curdle for about two weeks. This process is done in caves, so temperature and humidity are controlled.

aambariss

aambarissThe jars are often freshened with water from outside. When the milk curdles and turns into whey, a small hole at the bottom of the jar is opened to let out the whey, keeping just the curdle in. The jar is topped up with more milk, and so the curdling process begins a second time. The whey is removed and fresh milk added once again…and again, until the whole jar is filled with only curdled milk.