Shankleesh salad

January 2, 2010  •  Category:


One of the factors that add a peculiar charm to life in Beirut and Lebanon is the unreliability of things that people take for granted in the developed world, such as electricity and internet connection. I could not get connected at home for some reason and so my daughter and I decided to go to a really cool café in the Hamra district in West Beirut;  we could sit outside and get  some Evolution tea and  cake and free wireless connection; Café Younès is on  the ground  level  of an apartment building;  each floor has a balcony and  you can see tenants’ clothes and bedsheets drying on the rail;  the café itself is elegant and buzzing with American-speaking patrons, bohemian and intellectual-sounding, college-age for the most part. It is taking 15 minutes to download one picture, so this post is going to be short. At least we are enjoying the nice weather and people-watching and listening. There’s a lot of activity outside, as is usual in Beirut, cars honking, people laughing and shouting, trees and bushes in the street with twinkling Christmas lights.

Shankleesh is a Lebanese cheese that is similar to feta, except what sets it apart is that it is very pungent. I love it especially crumbled up and mixed with nature’s best vegetables, tomatoes, onions and cucumbers, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.


To make this salad, one can substitute feta cheese; crumble the cheese in a bowl, add some onion rings, some sliced cucumbers, some tomatoes, some fresh mint, some black olives. Toss with some lemon juice and olive oil and a bit of black pepper. Eat with some bread.


17 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Peter says:

    More pungeant than Feta? I have to try/find this cheese. I’ll try a local Mid-Eastern store run by Lebanese.

  2. Angie@Angie's Recipe says:

    Never had Shankleesh before…but if it’s similar to Feta, then I would definitely love it in my salad.

  3. taina says:

    I’ve been meaning to write my shangleeshi story, so your post reminded me. I love shangleeshi!

  4. nora@ffr says:

    shankleesh vat a cool name!! hehe!! never heard of it before!! i should give a try some time sooner

  5. yasmeen says:

    A very appetizing salad.Hope you had joyful holidays.Enjoy the rest of your stay.My best wishes for 2010 😀

  6. Bria says:

    Wow, I almost felt like I was in the cafe with you guys. Nice slice of life post. Shankleesh–whoa mama, is that stuff STRONG! But it tastes so good. I like it when it’s quite peppery and aggressively spiced. Smells like socks, but taste like heaven. Lol!

  7. Fouad says:

    Hi Joumana

    Happy new year my friend. I hope you have had a good year in 2009.
    Love the post on shanklish, and I love shanklish as well. Did you know it is the only mould surface ripened cheese native to the Middle East? Pretty cool huh?


  8. tobias cooks! says:

    I am in exactly the same situation with the internet here on this little Greek island! No connection at home, sitting in an internet cafe. Love the salad!

  9. amal says:

    Un petit coucou pour souhaiter très bonne année 2010.
    Plein de bonheur et de santé.
    Cette salade donne envie!

  10. cmiranda says:

    I have yet to try this salad.Lovely post and beautiful pictures.

  11. Arlette says:

    I will teach you to make your own shankleish, after you will never buy it….

    Maybe I need to make another batch and do a posting….

  12. Chris says:

    Shankleesh is not really like feta. Shankleesh is made with lebneh (yogurt) that has then been aged (I think mold’, as well). Feta is simply brined (over-salted, really) cheese curd.

    In any case, one of the best things I ever ate in Lebanon was Shankleesh crumbled into a wild zaatar salad….totally BLACK OUT delicious. Totally miss Lebanon.

    • Michelle says:

      Shankleesh is not covered in mold. My favorite little Lebanese bakery in Methuen, MA…the proprietor told me it’s thyme. Not mold…that stays on my bleu cheese. She told me how to make Shankleesh Salad and I have to report next trip to the bakery. Love to try new things!

      • Joumana says:

        @Michelle: You are absolutely right, the shankleesh is covered with thyme or spices. Whatever mold develops during the drying process is removed and the cheese is covered with various coatings instead, usually red pepper powder, or thyme powder or a mixture of spices..

  13. Gerald Abraham says:

    I need a shunkleesh recipe. Thanks

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