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Labneh with pul biber brown butter (atom meze)

Recipe by Hasan Semay

Labneh is served as a cold starter in restaurants around Türkiye and the Middle East – here, Hasan tops it with a nutty and aromatic brown butter that’s been infused with classic Turkish spice, pul biber. It might sound fancy, but this recipe is about as effortless as it gets!


For the labneh

650g/1lb 7oz suzme or thick Greek-style (strained) yoghurt

1 heaped tsp sea salt flakes

15g/½oz sugar

2 garlic cloves, finely grated

1 lemon, juice and zest

For the pul biber brown butter

60g/2¼oz unsalted butter

3 dried chillies, rehydrated in freshly boiled water for 5 minutes, drained and roughly chopped

2 tbsp pul biber


Place a sieve over a bowl and line it with a muslin cloth or alternative fabric of choice (see Recipe Tip).

Mix the yoghurt with the salt, sugar, garlic and lemon zest and juice, then scrape it into the lined sieve. Wrap the fabric and tie with string, then leave in the fridge with the bowl underneath for at least two hours – the longer the yoghurt is left to strain the stiffer it becomes, and we want it to be a cream cheese consistency. (You can also hang it somewhere to drain.)

To make the brown butter, place the butter in a pan over a medium heat and melt. Eventually, it will start foaming. Once you notice the smell of butterscotch and see that the butter is taking on a golden colour, add the chilli and pul biber. Give the pan a little swirl then take it off the heat. (It’s important to catch the butter just at the beginning of the browning process so it doesn’t cook the pul biber too much – we only want it to infuse and bleed out its colours and flavours.)

When you’re ready to serve, pour away the strained liquid from the yoghurt bowl and scrape the labneh from the cloth onto a plate. Make a little dip in the middle with the back of a spoon, then pour in the hot butter. Serve with bread for dipping.

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