Labne/Labaneh added to official French dictionary

Labane, labne, cheese, a plate with olive oil and za'atar

Labane is delicious for breakfast, served with warm pita and olive oil

Le Petit Robert, the popular single-volume French dictionary, has added the word “labné”, also pronounced as “labneh” or “labaneh” to its latest 2023 edition. A civil war in Lebanon in 1975 drove hundreds of thousands of french-speaking Arab Lebanese to France, and of course they brought their delicious food and cheese traditions with them. Like Indians have great yoghurt, the Arab world has amazing labaneh. Rolled into a Druize pita with za’atar and olive oil. You have yourself a vegetarian meal.

You pronounce labane as LA-BA-NEH and in Hebrew the word “laban” means white.

Le Robert’s:

Fromage frais égoutté préparé traditionnellement avec du lait de chèvre ou de brebis (spécialité moyen-orientale).

Labneh is traditionally made with goat’s milk, but it can easily be made using a 1/2 a gallon of cow’s or sheep’s milk. Maybe even camel milk too. As we mentioned above, we love it on a fresh pita with olive oil and za’atar.

Labaneh is popular in the Middle East. It’s a fresh cheese that doesn’t spoil easily in the heat and you can make at home with yoghurt or with milk and lemon (see our recipe here).

Labane tastes awkwardly sour at first like something is wrong with it. The flavor tingles in your mouth a bit. After the first few tastes, you will grow to love its tangy flavor. We promise.

You might find it sold in a small tub or rolled into balls and stored with olive oil. Either way is delicious.

Vegan version of labne

Notre Dame University-Louaize’s Christelle Bou Mitri, with Christelle Saleme and Christy Raad have developed a plant-based alternative to the Lebanese Labneh. The researchers at the private Catholic university in Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon, are following the alt-protein, alt-milk craze and have found a way to make the tangy cheese using peas, lupin, and beans in response to the increasing need for vegan food in Lebanon. 

According to the university’s press, vegan products in Lebanon are hard to access, especially in terms of affordability, which limits one’s options in adopting a vegan lifestyle, particularly for the sake of health risks.

You can now find Labaneh in major cities around the world like in Toronto, New York, London or Paris but it’s just as easy to make if you can’t find it. If you’re expert level at Arab cheese, we challenge you to make smen.


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