Creamy Garlic n’ Zaatar Labneh – Hung Curd Dip from the Middle East

Picnics are usually a super fun thing to do with the whole family, but when in pandemic times, we just decided to get out by ourselves & get the good ol’ feeling anyway! Do you enjoy family picnics too?

This was my simple n nutritious picnic basket last Sunday when we went out on a picnic & stopped by the wayside in a large spot of sunshine to grab a quick bite. Feeling unsafe to eat outside, I had packed some basic picnic food, multigrain & regular baguettes, freshly sliced tomatoes & cucumbers, few boiled eggs, tons of fresh crunchy vibrant Romaine lettuce, cheese slices, fruit & olives.

The most exciting part of my basket however, which I would love to share with all of you, is my all time favorite Garlic n Herb Labneh bi Toum or strained yoghurt sauce.

Be it low fat or full fat, this super creamy, salty & tangy, cooling Middle Eastern dip makes for the most flavourful & healthy sauce, just as an appetizer which can be served with pita chips, fruit, olives, fresh veggie sticks or as a filling in sandwiches & subs like I have done.

The combinations of flavours are endless, however my favourite one is my version of the classic Zaatar spice, made with dried thyme, toasted sesame seeds, salt, pepper, cumin powder & lemon juice.

As it would be awhile to get to lunch, we had to ensure a substantial breakfast & so, once there, I mixed my Labneh with the chopped boiled eggs & seasoned it with freshly ground pepper & salt & made some quick fresh subs for all.

I first started trying out different flavours of Labneh when I got married & as a working woman when we would have friends & family come over home at short notice, this would prove to be a life saver! Super popular, quick to make & a cooling alternative to the regular garlic mayonnaise dip, that I served with potato crisps & veggie sticks.

How could I end the picnic & beautiful breakfast without taking some pictures of my basket to share with all of you?

Read on for the recipe…

Recipe for Creamy Garlic n’ Zaatar Labneh – Hung Curd Dip from the Middle East

Ingredients (Serves 8 – 10 persons)

To strain

  • 1 litre whole milk yoghurt
  • ¾ tsp salt

To flavour

  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme/oregano/basil or fresh coriander & mint leaves
  • 2 stalks fresh celery, minced (only the stalks) optional if available
  • ½ teaspoon pepper powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 red/yellow bell pepper, chopped for garnish (optional)
  • Juice of 1 whole lime
  • Salt to taste
  • 1½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli powder (optional if you prefer it spicy)


  1. Pour the yoghurt into a large muslin cloth & stir in the salt.
  2. Pick up the edges of the towel and tie at the top. Hang from a kitchen sink tap to drain for 1-2 hours as shown in the picture.
  3. Save 100 ml of the whey or liquid, should you require to moisten it later.
  4. To serve, spread labneh in a bowl and top with extra virgin olive oil, garlic & all other herbs listed for flavour as per your taste.
  5. You can also use it as a fabulous healthy substitute for sandwich fillings instead of mayonnaise which contains a lot more oil.


  • Here I have mixed the fresh labneh with chopped boiled egg & some of the reserved whey to make a spreadable sandwich filling, then topped with slices of fresh tomato, cucumber, cheese & lettuce. You could the cold cuts of your choice to the same for added flavour such as salami, ham bacon etc.
  • Kids enjoy the addition of tomato ketchup instead of chilli powder to make a sweetish labneh sandwich filling.

Video for Creamy Garlic n’ Zaatar Labneh

3 thoughts on “Creamy Garlic n’ Zaatar Labneh – Hung Curd Dip from the Middle East

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