• Have the TCL judges ever tasted this fermented dairy product? (The Chefs' Line)
Can the judges of The Chefs' Line recognise kashk in a blind taste test? And what is kashk, anyway?
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24 Aug 2018 - 8:37 AM  UPDATED 10 Jan 2019 - 2:20 PM

If you've ever read a menu at a Persian restaurant, you probably would have seen kashk-e bademjan, a delicious eggplant dip, topped with kashk, a by-product of cheesemaking that's strained and dried to varying degrees. The result is a thick concentrate milk solids that carry a distinctive smell and can be sold in anything from jars of paste to dried balls that get rehydrated before use. 

Use this ingredient as a topping where you would use a creamy feta or a strong, salty yoghurt. You can even try using it to thicken a hearty winter soup, like this Persian ash-e-reshteh, filled with vegetables, noodles and beans, or add it to your favourite baba ganouj recipe for a creamy twist. 

Kashk - middle eastern dried yoghurtkurt kurut - asian dried yogurt balls

So, how did our judges do in the blind taste test? 

Have the TCL judges ever tasted this fermented dairy product?

(3, 2, 1, down the hatch!)

[Dan] I know! 

[Melissa] It's on the tip of my tongue, but I can't...

What will their final guess be?

[Dan] I've got it...I think.

[Melissa] I don't know!!

Our chefs take their best guesses...

(It's kashk. A middle eastern fermented whey.)

[Melissa] Ahhhhhh.

[Dan] Ah okay. And what animal?

(Cow)

[Dan] Really? Damn, I wrote goat's cheese.

Have the TCL Judes ever tried this middle eastern ingredient?

(What sort of flavours did you get eating it?)

[Mark] It was sour. 

[Dan] It was like a cheese spread.

[Melissa] Yeah it was kinda like that parmesan-y, umami...

[Dan] I got that goat's feta...

[Melissa] Yeah I would've said goat or sheep. 

[Mark] Sheep, definitely sheep. 

[Melissa] Kinda like in-between parmesan and you know that cheese that's parmesan-but-not-parmesan-that's-not-refrigerated? That stuff. 

The Chefs' Line is back for round 2! Home cooks versus restaurant chefs are getting ready to rumble in our kitchen 6pm weeknights starting Monday, August 6 on SBS and then on SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos, cooking tips and more.

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Labna

Labna or labneh is a Middle Eastern staple. It’s made by removing excess whey from salted yoghurt, which results in a velvety, cream cheese-like spread with a lightly sour note. It’s eaten on bread and topped with olives, mint, tomato, cucumber and olive oil. Fouad Kassab is a food writer and author of Middle Eastern-inspired The Food Blog.

Cheat’s shanklish

Shanklish is a Middle Eastern cheese with a similar texture to feta. Made from yoghurt whey, the cheese is salted, shaped into balls and aged. Once matured, it is coated in dried thyme, and sometimes chilli. This quick-and-easy version makes a good substitute.