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An Ancient Spice, An Ancient Cheese

fried jibneh baida cheese

Jibneh baida is a salty goat cheese popular in Palestinian and other Middle Eastern cuisine, often made by nomadic Bedouin tribes living in the Arab desert. There are certain ways to enjoy the cheese, as NPR’s Emily Harris discovered after buying some of the stuff and jotting down her observations.

A fresh cheese, jibneh baida is traditionally topped with spices, including myrrh, and seeds before being served alongside olives, bread, tomatoes, or just snacked on by itself. There is a particular method of preparing the cheese that results in a squeaky quality about it. (Find out more about squeaky cheeses.) This method, which involves boiling the cheese before serving, also helps retain the cheese’s high melting point. Great fresh or fried, jibneh baida can find a place at your table for any meal (or snacking) occasion, as the blog Bint Rhoda’s Kitchen tells us in the post about this Middle Eastern staple. Want to know where to find this cheese? If you live in an urban area with a good Middle Eastern market, that might be your best bet. Or you can purchase it online, or through your local cheese shop. Other fresh cheeses like Halloumi or Queso Fresco are nice substitutes for jibneh baida if you can’t find it.

Want to DIY? Fresh cheeses are easy to make at home and require only a few ingredients, a bit of time, and some enthusiasm. Here’s a recipe to make traditional jibneh baida (though you might be hard-pressed to find the traditional myrrh or seeds of the St. Lucy tree unless you’re in the Middle East). If you like other fresh cheeses like mozzarella, paneer, and feta, we have a great DIY feta recipe for you, too.

Photo courtesy of Bint Rhoda’s Kitchen

Michelina DelGizzi

Michelina DelGizzi, MS, MPH, is a writer and caseophile based in Boston and Lafayette, La.