Cheese is one of the most widely loved (and eaten!) foods in the world - but did you know Syrians have been perfecting their cheese craft for centuries? The much-loved dairy product is a staple in Syrian cuisine.
Like many cuisines, the food eaten in Syria is influenced by people from neighbouring countries, who settled there over time. Made and enjoyed in Syria for hundreds of years, below are five examples of Syrian cheeses which continue to feature heavily across Middle Eastern cuisine today.
Tresse cheese -orJibneh Mshallaleh - is a form of ‘string cheese’ from Syria. Made with cow’s milk, it contains the Middle-Eastern spiceMahlab,and seeds of the nigella sativa plant, which give it a unique taste. Braided tightly, this Tresse cheese comes in a braided mass which you untangle before eating!
Brought to Syria by the Armenians, it also became known as Halabi cheese, or the cheese of Aleppo, due to the number of Armenian refugees who settled there.
Akkwai is a white cheese with a complex, salty flavour. Originating from thePalestinian city of Akka, it’s made using pasteurized cow's milk, goat or sheep's milk and is produced on a large scale in Syria. This cheese can be used as a filling for the famous dessert Kenafa.
Usually spread on fresh bread or crackers and eaten for breakfast or as a snack, this soft-white, smooth, creamy cheese has a mild flavour. It’s fresh, traditionally unpasteurized and is made with a mixture of goat, cow and sheep's milk.
Shanklish, is a mature cheese made with spices and generally presented as balls covered in za'tar orchile powder. It’s most often eaten as astarter dish called Surke with tomato, oil and sometimes onion.
Fatayer are freshly baked savoury pies, which can be made with vegan, vegetarian or meat ingredients. We fill our fatayer with either our own vegetarian homestyle cheese and parsley, spinach and pomegranate molasses or olives and a sweet red pepper spread. These savoury triangles can also be stuffed with beef and parsley, before being baked to golden perfection.
Our cheese Sambousak comes in the form of golden half-moon crispy pockets filled with Tayybeh's homestyle cheese and parsley. A fun fact about Sambousak is that while the dish originated in the Middle East, today Sambousak are believed to have inspired more mainstream foods, such Indian samosas and Latin American empanadas. It’s no surprise that we still enjoy them best in their original, humble form!
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