Turkish Strained Yoghurt with Sesame Seeds, with Honey or Dried Chilli & Herbs

Makes approx. 200g/7oz
600ml (1 pint) full-fat (whole) milk natural yoghurt, bought or home-made
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Sweet cheese
4 tablespoons clear honey
Savoury cheese
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon dried mint

Once you have made your own home-made yoghurt, you can take the dish a stage further by straining it to give a softish cheese, known in the Middle East as labneh. This can be flavoured in a number of ways.

Line a colander or sieve with scalded muslin or cheesecloth, and set over a bowl. Beat the yoghurt and salt together and spoon the mixture into the mould. Cover with a cloth and allow to drain for 24 hours.

Meanwhile heat the oil and, when hot, add the sesame seeds. Cook until pale gold (they will continue to cook as they cool), and quickly remove from the heat. Leave in the oil.

If making the sweet cheese, simply allow the seeded oil to cool. If making a savoury cheese, add the black pepper, chilli flakes and mint to the seeded oil, stir and allow the oil to cool.

To serve the labneh, remove it from the sieve or colander, take off the cheesecloth, and place it on a dish. Pour over the seeded oil and, for the sweet version, spoon on the honey.

Serve the savoury cheese with flat bread, and the sweet one spooned into dessert dishes accompanied by sponge fingers or shortbread.

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