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Syrian String Cheese

Author: Posted on: March 22, 2010 at 9:03 am

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


Corinne is the founder and editor of Gourmantic. An avid scribe, she has taken pen to paper since the age of five. Her repertoire includes long works of fiction, short stories and travelogues.

She is a winner of the GT travel writing competition, has judged the Australasian Whisky Awards for 2013 and several cocktail competitions. She is also named in the Australian Bartender Most Influential List for 2013.

This article is posted on Gourmantic.com. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2014

Syrian String Cheese was last modified: July 12th, 2014 by Corinne

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16 Comments to “Syrian String Cheese”

  1. Frank Carbone says:

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

    • Gourmantic says:

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

  2. Anil says:

    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.

  3. Dave and Deb says:

    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.

    • Gourmantic says:

      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.

  4. Anne says:

    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

    • Gourmantic says:

      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!

  5. [...] Jibneh mshallaleh – also known as Syrian String Cheese [...]

  6. Trent Ferrara says:

    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!

    • Gourmantic says:

      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!

  7. Cesar Nawwar says:

    Dear Sir,
    We are a potential client for akkawi cheese(100tons/year).
    Need more info as soon as possible.

  8. [...] Danks Street Depot & Cotton Duck: Hiramasa kingfish roasted in jerky & nigella seeds with heirloom tomatoes & basil ($12); interesting use of nigella seeds, used in Syrian string cheese [...]

  9. [...] cheese. Another of my recent favorites is a tomato salad with red onions, celery and middle eastern string cheese. The string cheese is often spiced with black cumin (Nigella sativa) which gives this pleasant [...]

  10. […] or Bastourma, a staple in Armenian cuisine and Turkish food comes wrapped around string cheese on a bed of avocado – a popular and tasty combination of the chaman spiced air-dried beef with […]

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