I’m posting this recipe mainly as an advert for Sabrina Ghayour’s book Simply. A revelation. I know next to nothing about Persian food, but this was a 99-centime Kindle deal. My first experience of a cookbook on Kindle too — I was very dubious, but it works pretty well on the iPad.
This is the first recipe in the book, and the first we tried. It’s a cracker. Within about three weeks we’ve had it three or four times. Making labneh was another first — I had no idea how easy it is. We now have jars of it preserved in olive oil.
Ingredients: I did find za’atar easily at the spice stall in the market. Pul biber (mild chili flakes, mainly produced in Turkey), an ingredient in many recipes in this book: nope. Eventually I bought some online, and it was well worth it; it brings a lovely smoky, complex flavour and I foresee I’ll be using it regularly. Alternatives: Mexican ancho pepper or (maybe) piment d’Espelette.
Again I urge you to try this, and then buy this book or any of her others. Such a burst of exotic, sunshiny flavours. A great tapa or starter.
500 g Greek yoghurt
500 g baby plum tomatoes
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs za’atar
Leaves of 4 sprigs of thyme (or dried thyme)
1 unwaxed lemon
2 tbs runny honey
1 tsp pul biber chilli flakes
Fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper
At least 24 hours before you want to serve, make the labneh: mix the Greek yoghurt with 1 tsp of salt and spoon into a muslin bag. Suspend over a bowl (e.g. using a sieve) and put in the fridge to drain overnight. You may need to squeeze to extract more moisture; it needs to be firm enough to form the balls.
The next day, preheat the oven to 220C. Put the tomatoes in a roasting tin, add the olive oil, za’atar, thyme leaves, and salt and pepper, and toss with your hands till well coated. Roast for about 20 minutes, till the tomatoes start to char, then remove from the oven and leave to cool. You can optionally remove the skins once they are cool enough.
Remove the labneh from the muslin bag and form into small balls, about the same size as the tomatoes or a little bigger. Arrange on a plate with the roasted tomatoes. Grate over the zest of the lemon, drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with pul biber before serving with warm flatbreads.