Lebna, which is strained yogurt, is a very basic ingredient in Arabic cooking.
It can be featured in breakfast, lunch, and dinner in various shapes and forms.This is the most basic of all, lebna used as a dip or appetizer. I am used to sprinkling it with zaatar, but it is also common to use dried mint. I always think of a castle surrounded by a moat of crocodiles when i shape the lebna onto the plate; I guess some things from our childhood just stick.
Lebna can also be used as part of a dish, as in kubba labania and stuffed courgettes in yogurt sauce.
When I tasted whipped feta dip, it tasted so incredibly similar to labna, that I wondered at how we take so many things for granted that other people have to work much harder at, Alhamdullah rab alalameen.
Concentrating the yogurt through straining brings out a delightful tanginess in the lebna. Wonderful used as a spread, too.
1kg plain yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
Stir the salt in the yogurt (it will aid in the draining).
Line a non-reactive sieve or strainer (I used plastic) with two layers of kitchen paper towels, with an over-hang, and place over a bowl to catch the dripping whey.
Pour the yogurt into the paper-lined sieve, then fold the over-hang onto the surface of the yogurt.
Refrigerate 24 hours.
By now you will have up to 2 cups of whey (discard) in the bowl, and a thickened unctuous creamy lebna.
Using the back of a tablespoon, shape lebna like a moat, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with zaatar.