Central Asia has vast flat plains, including the world’s largest steppe region, ‘the Great Steppe’, as well as mountain regions. This expanse of grassland is renowned for its rich, smooth dairy products made from cow, goat, sheep, horse and even camel milk. Suzma is a tangy yogurt cheese, which is spooned into soups, mixed into salads or eaten with bread and fresh tomatoes as a simple meal. 

Makes
2 cups

Preparation

5min

Skill level

Easy
By
Average: 4.8 (16 votes)
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Ingredients

  • 500 g full-fat Greek yogurt 
  • salt

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Allow at least 24 hours of draining time. 

Start a day or two before you want to serve. Season the yogurt with a generous pinch of salt. Hang a muslin bag over a bowl, or line a colander with two pieces of kitchen paper and set it in a shallow dish. Pour in the yogurt and tie the muslin at the top to form a tight bundle (or cover the colander with clingfilm) and leave in a cool place for 24–36 hours for the liquid to drain off and the yogurt to thicken. Discard the liquid.

You can either eat the suzma as it is, or flavour it in one of the ways below.

Green Suzma

Finely chop the white and green parts of 4 spring onions, and a small bunch each of coriander, dill and flat-leaf parsley. Stir through the suzma and season with salt and pepper.

White Suzma

Stir in 1 crushed garlic clove and 1 teaspoon of finely chopped dill. Season with salt and pepper.

Pink Suzma

Blend 2 cooked beetroot until smooth. Stir into the suzma with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe and image from Samarkand by Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford (Kyle Books, hbk, $49.99). Read more about the food of this historic area here