Irresistible Middle Eastern Cheeses – Middle Eastern Food And Cheeses!

With its countless textures, flavors, and recipes, cheese is one of the most diverse types of food in the world. Even its chief ingredient, milk, can come from a wide variety of animals including cows, goats, sheep, and even buffalo. Middle Eastern cheeses are known possessing a wide range of flavor profiles and diverse characteristics including but not limited to texture, consistency and color. Here’s all you need to know about the 9 most popular Middle Eastern cheeses: 

Middle eastern cheeses

Irresistible Middle Eastern Cheeses – Middle Eastern Food And Cheeses

  • Baladi

    A soft, white cheese originating from the Middle East, also known as Jibneh Khadra or Jibnah Baladi in Arabic. In local language, Baladi means local cheese made from a flock of ‘baladi‘ goats. Alternatively, it is also called ‘cheese of the mountains’ because it is made high in the mountains all over Lebanon by the local shepherds. Since Baladi is made from a mixture of goat, cow and sheep milk, it has to be consumed within three days. The cheese appears similar to Ackawi, but is more dense in consistency. It is a soft unripened cheese with a sweet and slightly salty flavour. This artisan cheese can be eaten with local bread or served with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh herbs.

  • Feta Cheese:

    Feta cheese is easily one of the most popular types of cheeses used in Middle Eastern cooking. Feta cheese is usually made from sheep or goat milk and then aged. The great thing about Feta cheese is its versatility. In Middle Eastern food it is used in everything from salads to desserts, and it’s perfectly edible on its own.

  • Labneh

    Is a soft, cream cheese made from strained yogurt. Labneh is easy to make and low in calories, making it the perfect alternative to traditional cream cheese. Labneh can be used just as you would normally use cream cheese, as a spread on bagels or a dip for your favorite fruit and vegetables.

    Middle eastern cheeses


  • Nabulsi Cheese:

    Nabulsi cheese is a semi-hard brined cheese typically made from sheep or goat milk. It is commonly found in Palestine and surrounding areas. Nabulsi is often used as a table cheese and is the main ingredient in katayef pastry.

  • Jibneh Arabieh:

    A mild cheese common in Egypt; originally, Jibneh Arabieh was made using goat or sheep milk, but today is typically made with cow milk. It is used in a variety of dishes as well as a table cheese.

  • Testouri:

    Unique for being typically shaped like an orange, Testouri hails from Egypt and is eaten lightly salted. It is made from goat or sheep milk.

  • Halloumi

    The perfect Middle Eastern cheese for grilling, Halloumi is produced as a mixture of goat and sheep milk, and is similar to mozzarella cheese. As the cheese can be fried or grilled due to its high melting point, Halloumi is often paired with salads and fruits, particularly watermelon.

  • Shanklish:

    Shanklish is a cheese common to Syria and Lebanon and made from sheep or cow milk. The most common use of the cheese is to form it into balls, allowing it to dry and age. Thyme is used as the main spice in making Shanklish. The cheese can be eaten fresh or aged. If eaten fresh, the taste is mild with a soft texture; while an aged Shanklish will be harder and possess a pungent odor.

  • Ackawi:

    The cheese is commonly made using pasteurized cow milk, but can be made with goat or sheep milk as well. It is produced on a large scale in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Cyprus where people typically eat it with a soft flat bread at lunch and dinner. Its texture can be compared to that of a Mozzarella, Feta or a Mizithra, as it does not melt down very well. Its resistance to melting makes it an excellent frying cheese, because it holds its shape very well. The cheese can be stored for up to a year.

    Middle eastern cheeses

    Ackawi Cheese

Cheese is one of the most common ingredients in the Middle East. It’s also a favorite ingredient for many of our chefs on ChefXchange. Ask Chef Roberto (Dubai) about his ‘Cheese Party’ menu and book him for your next event! So, next time if someone asks you about Middle Eastern cheeses, you know what to say 🙂