February 26, 2013
Shanklish is a type of sheep milk or goat milk cheese used in Levantine cuisine – the cuisine of Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Syria and parts of Turkey. Sometimes it is formed into balls and covered with za’atar, which is typically a blend of sumac (see below), thyme, salt and sesame seeds. It is then aged and dried. Or it can be sold unformed.
While shanklish may be harder to come by on this side of the world, a good substitute is a well flavoured feta perhaps mixed with a little crumbly blue cheese.
I like this dish because it is easily assembled and makes a good meze dish. I serve it with pita bread split into single layers then brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with dried thyme and sumac and baked at 190C for about 10 minutes until crisp. The bread can then be broken into pieces and used as a scoop for the salad.
Sumac is a dark reddish brown powder with a lemony tang. It is made from the fruits or drupes from a shrub of the same name and can usually be found among the herbs and spices.
I’ve also included a quick recipe for hummus that makes a good accompanying meze. I add some ground cumin and cayenne pepper to my hummus to give it a deeper flavour and a bit of heat, but these are optional.
1 medium red onion
Finely chop the onion and the tomatoes. Drain them a little then mix together with the salt, thyme and some of the sumac. Spoon onto a serving plate and crumble over the cheese, then drizzle with olive oil and garnish with the remaining sumac.
1 can of chickpeas, drained
Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth, adding a little water at a time to achieve a smooth paste.
Spoon into a serving bowl, make an indentation in the surface and pour in a little additional olive oil and garnish with pine nuts if you wish.
| ©2000-2013 Pat Churchill