Shanklish is a Lebanese and Syrian blue cheese made from sheep or cow's milk. The cheese is mostly popular in coastal and mountainous areas especially around Tartous and Homs and the adjoining northern Lebanese region of Akkar.
Making Shanklish is very complex process, which requires the separation of butter from yogurt. The skimmed yogurt called Shenineh is curdled to form Arisheh, a delicate crumbly white cheese. The cheese is then rolled into tennis size balls and dried in the sun for a week. It is then placed in airtight jars and left to mature in the dark. As they age, the cheese develops mould layer on the surface. Later, the Shanklish balls are rinsed to remove off the mould and coated in dried zaatar or thyme. To make spicy Shanklish, spices such as aniseed and chilli is mixed in before the cheese is rolled into balls.
Fresh Shanklish tastes mild with a soft texture, while those dried and aged for longer periods are darker and pungent in odour and flavour. Cheese found around Tartus, Akkar are particularly appetizing, as they tend to be hard with a clean, strong flavour and whitish colour.
Shanklish is common meze dish often accompanied with finely chopped tomato, onion, and olive oil. It is also eaten mashed with eggs, pita bread with cucumbers, mint, and olive oil for breakfast.
Other cheeses from Lebanon:
Other cheeses from Syria: