You all know how passionate I am of wanting to share as much Emirati recipes I can on the blog. Though my access to these recipes are limited, I am trying my best to dig into sources and find them as much as I can. I do have a few in my drafts and may more in hand, waiting to be tried, InShaAllah. I hope I can slowly keep filling in the section and make this blog a one-stop for the beautiful Emirati cuisine. 🙂
Cheese is a very integral part of Emirati food. They serve cheese with almost everything. If I tell you that it’s the golden Kraft bottle that sells the best here, you need not be surprised. Cheese is used to dip in their breads and chebaab, and as spread into their sandwiches, especially the ever favorite Oman chips sandwich. But apart from the spreadable cheese, there is one that is made from thick laban and called “Chamee”. Just like how paneer is made of milk, chamee cheese follows the same process, just that it is made from laban instead of milk.
Now how did I discover about Chamee? I happened to read this article during my casual browsing and it immediately hit my attention. I tried searching more about the making of chamee cheese online, but wasn’t really lucky with it. I tried searching on the aisles of supermarkets here, and the only place I found commercially made chamee was at Union Co-op, where usually the locals shop for their groceries. It was quite pricey too and was available only in limited quantities.
I then asked my local friend about it. Now talking about this friend, she was my BBA mate till 2004 and then we had lost contact. I then met at her when I joined the gym last year in May! That’s after 13 years! How surprising life can get at times! 🙂 So I just asked her whether they make chamee, and she said, yes, they do. She said they eat it in two ways – by stuffing it into dates and dipping the date in honey, or in between bread along with honey. So chamee seems to be a good combination with honey!
Chamee has a slightly salty tange. Laban is itself salty, and the splitting is done with salt added, so that explains the taste. No wonder why it acts a combination with honey! It also doesn’t shape up like paneer would, it is quite crumbly in texture. It stores well in the fridge for 4 days, when kept in a clean air tight container. The first thing I did was to slather some honey on toast, top it with chamee and close it up another toast slathered with honey. It was really delicious! The sweet and salty flavors made it a lovely combination. I am sure the chamee would taste equally good with spicy and sour flavors as well. InShaAllah, will share a couple of recipes where I made use of this delicious cheese in the near future. Till then, let’s move into the recipe…
- 1 ltr thick laban (I used Al Marai)
- 1 tsp salt
- Keep a large bowl, a sieve and a muslin cloth on top. Set aside.
- Combine both the ingredients in a saucepan and keep on low flame. Allow it to simmer. As the mixtures scalds, you will notice the solid moving up. Just allow it to boil for a few minutes.
- Switch off the flame and pour into the muslin cloth to collect the solids. Allow it to drain the liquid for around 10 minutes.
- If you want the chamee without much liquid, then you can keep the cloth on a wooden plank and top it with a heavy mortar and pestle. Otherwise, you can use as is.