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.
So, how did our judges do in the blind taste test?
(3, 2, 1, down the hatch!)
[Dan] I know!
[Melissa] It's on the tip of my tongue, but I can't...
[Dan] I've got it...I think.
[Melissa] I don't know!!
(It's kashk. A middle eastern fermented whey.)
[Dan] Ah okay. And what animal?
[Dan] Really? Damn, I wrote goat's cheese.
(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.
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.