Food Syria

Syrian String Cheese

Every once in a while you come across a food item that evokes curiosity. Educating the palate as well as the mind is one of the best advantages you gain from travel, particularly when you can replicate the experience at home.

One such discovery from my travels to the Middle East is Syrian string cheese. Known by its Arabic name as jibneh mshallaleh, the white cheese comes in a braided mass that you untangle before you eat.

Syrian String Cheese

Made with cow’s milk, the cheese contains a middle-eastern spice known as Mahlab (or Mahlebi, Mahleb). The black spots on the stringy cheese are the seeds of the nigella sativa plant, called ḥabbat al-barakah or the “seed of blessing” which pepper it with a unique taste. During the culturing process, the cheese is pulled in a way that creates elasticity then it is braided tightly.

Syrian String Cheese

The cheese can be eaten as is, that is after you have unbraided and untangled it with your fingers.

Syrian String Cheese

For an easy to prepare snack, add a generous amount of the cheese inside a round of Lebanese bread or the smaller pita bread. I prefer Lebanese bread in this instance as it tends to be thinner. You could drizzle a little olive oil for extra taste if you wish, but not too much that the bread gets saturated.

Syrian String Cheese

Place under the griller until lightly toasted on one side, then flip and grill the other side. The cheese melts and binds to the bread. Take care that the bread doesn’t burn unless you like a lot of crunch.

Syrian String Cheese

Cut into quarters and serve immediately while still warm. The melted cheese has the consistency of mozarella.

Syrian String Cheese

Syrian string cheese / jibneh mshallaleh can be found in specialty Middle-eastern shops.

For more information about Aleppo’s food, don’t miss our food and drink guide: What to Eat in Aleppo Syria


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.


  • Now why don’t Pizza Hut use that as a base, looks delicious.  Where can one get this delicacy in Sydney ?

    • Frank: You can get it in middle eastern stores and Lebanese shops. You might have to ask them to order it for you.

  • That looks simply like the best snack ever. I’ll make sure to find some when I’m in Syria towards the end of the year.

  • Yummy! Cheese is my favorite food and this dish looks amazing. What does that spice taste like? I am sure that when it is melted it must be heavenly.  I have heard so many wonderful things about Syria during our trip to India, Nepal, Sri Lanka.  So many travelers have only had amazing things to say about it.  Me thinks a trip to the Middle East is in store for the near future.

    • Dave and Deb: The spice isn’t very strong and it adds a little nutty crunch to the melted cheese. I find the more you pack the bread with cheese, the better it tastes when it melts.
      Syria is an amazing country to visit. The lack of tourists is one of the things that hits you when you see the ancient sites and think, “why doesn’t the world know of this?” I’ll be dedicating more posts to it in the near future.

  • This is the greatest cheese in the world.
    Grew up calling it string cheese but whenever I would mention it people thought I meant those nasty Kraft inventions…

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the extreme saltiness of this cheese (my favourite part). It’s entertaining t watch people’s faces as they eat it for the first time with no warning thoguh

    • Hi Anne and welcome 🙂 It’s a little on the salty side for some (though not for me, like you, I enjoy it). It’s fun making people see the before and after. Once it’s melted, it’s pure heaven!

  • My friend, Greg Raheb, owner of Stanley Burger in Providence and Centeral Falls, Rhode Island, taught me how to make this interesting and delicious cheese just last week. It is not only fun to eat, but so much fun to make. I pared it with sliced tomatoes on a nice chibatta bread on the panini grill and it was the perfect mate to a nice bowl of soup.De…licious!

    • Hi Trent – Making your own cheese sounds like a lot of fun, especially this one that needs pulling to get the stringiness. I must try your pairing on ciabatta bread next time. Thanks for shsring!