Shiraz Laban bi-Buqul (yoghurt/cheese dip with herbs)

Take mint, celery leaves and vegetable leeks and strip them all from their stalks and cut them up finely with the knife.  Throw them in the mortar, and when they release liquid after pounding, dry them off.  Then mix them well with shiraz.  Throw a little salt on it, as much as it will bear, and mustard pounded fine, and moderate its flavour with the mustard.  Put it in a vessel and strew its surface with a little nigella.  If you like, put pounded walnuts on it.Source: Kitab Wasf al-At’ima al-Mu’tada (The Description of Familiar Foods) trans. Charles Perry (C14 Egypt)

This is a very tasty, simple dip and would be served as part of the appetisers at a Middle Eastern banquet.


2 cups cottage cheese OR 2 cups Greek yoghurt 2 tsp mustard powder
4 tbs fresh mint leaves Pinch salt
4 tbs celery leaves 2 tsp nigella seeds
6 large spring onions 4 tbs walnuts, pounded in a mortar and pestle


Put the cheese or yoghurt into a square of cheesecloth and a strainer, suspended over a deep bowl, to drain excess moisture.  This is best done overnight to drain the maximum water.  Give the cheesecloth a final squeeze at the end.

Mince the herbs and spring onions, then add to the drained cheese/yoghurt, along with the salt and mustard powder.  Mix well.

Serve sprinkled with nigella seeds and ground walnuts.  A good accompaniment to crudite vegetables, or lavash bread.

Equipment required: cheesecloth, strainer and tall bowl to strain yoghurt; bowl to mix dip; mortar and pestle

Total Time: approx. 10 minutes to make dip + overnight

Difficulty Rating: X

Prep ahead of time?  Yes.

Serves: Would probably do 2 serves for a feast

Leftover Potential: Poor (saving food with dairy that’s been sitting uncovered for a while is a Bad Idea, and there’s rarely any left).


  • Shiraz is either a yoghurt or cheese drained of whey, which is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained.
  • Make sure you don’t accidentally use cheesecloth you’ve previously used to squeeze onions and zucchini for zucchini fritters.  It adds a very weird taste to the dip.
  • Herb measurements are vague – add more or less as you please.
  • This recipe also works well with coriander leaves or parsley leaves.

Allergy Notes

  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Gluten Free
  • Egg-allergy friendly


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