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DUBAI: A new Arabic word has entered the 2023 edition of the famous French dictionary “Le Petit Robert”, compiled by lexicographer Paul Robert in the 1960s. The word is “labne” or “labneh”.

Derived from the Arabic word “laban” (yogurt), it is a creamy yogurt cheese that is a staple of a typical Levantine breakfast.

“I am happy and proud that parts of our products, dishes and traditions are recognized internationally, and particularly in France,” Franco-Lebanese chef Karim Haidar told Arab News. “Adding a new kind of cheese to cheese country is amazing.”

The Paris-based chef said the decision came as no surprise as over the years his French customers and friends have come to love labne, which can be found in countless restaurants and delicatessens across the region. French capital. Not only does it taste good, but it has health benefits because it’s high in protein and calcium, he said.

According to Haidar, labneh is traditionally made with goat’s milk. It has great acidity, prepared in terracotta, rolled into small balls, then preserved in olive oil. Labne can also be prepared with sheep’s and cow’s milk.

While labne can usually be found in any supermarket in the Middle East, preparing labne at home is easy – just add salt to yogurt and strain it through a cloth overnight.

It can be consumed in several ways. Whether eaten as a take-out sandwich or as a dip, it is drizzled with olive oil and often garnished with zaatar, mint or sumac. In recent years, international chefs have incorporated labneh into dessert dishes.

The introduction of labneh in “Le Petit Robert” comes at a time when Lebanese immigration to France has increased in recent years due to the economic crisis affecting Lebanon. But Haidar believes that the interest of the French for this yogurt goes back a few decades.

“I don’t think the latest episode of Lebanese emigration had an effect,” he said. “Labné has arrived on French tables since the emigration of 1975. We have been witnessing for years the love of the French for labné, and French food culture has been open to foreign food cultures for 30 years. Much like mozzarella or parmigiano, you can now find labne on the shelves of some major supermarket chains. »

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