This type of soft cheese is popular in the Middle East and India. Yogurt is tied up in muslin and left to strain for 6–36 hours – the shorter time making for a very soft mild cheese and the longer a denser cheese with a more pronounced flavour. Twelve hours is about right for this recipe. The end result is similar to cream cheese but lighter in texture and lower in fat.
Mixing different types of peppercorns with yogurt cheese is a pleasant way of experiencing their complex flavours without being overwhelmed by heat. Pepper also adds colour and crunch.
Dampen three large squares of muslin and use to line a colander, draping the corners over the sides. Spoon the yogurt into the centre of the muslin. Gather up the four corners and twist to squeeze the yogurt into a ball and remove excess liquid.
Tie tightly with string and fasten onto the handle of a wooden spoon. Rest the spoon on the rim of a deep bowl (or on two tall supports either side of the bowl). Make sure there is a reasonable gap underneath the ball for the liquid. Leave in a cool place to drip for 12 hours.
Season the cheese with sea salt to taste, then divide into four. Mix each portion with a different type of peppercorn. Leave to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes so the flavours develop.
© 2008 Christine McFadden. All rights reserved.