Shanklish salad is, along with tabbouleh, one of the most appreciated salads in Middle Eastern cuisine.
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Shanklish salad is prepared, as its name implies, with shanklish, chancliche, shinklish, or shankleesh, as this variety of cheese typical of the Levant cuisine is also known.
The milk used to make Shanklish is usually from sheep or cow. Shanklish is made into balls about 2.5 inches in diameter. Depending on its maturity, it can be whitish or yellowish in color.
That ball is covered with za’atar, a mix of herbs and spices that can include oregano, thyme, cumin, and Aleppo pepper, among others. Depending on the number of spices and herbs, it can be more or less spicy and even hot.
Shanklish salad: A Recipe with a Story
I discovered shanklish and the salad that is prepared with this cheese, during my college years, in Caracas. In the 80s, Syrians and Lebanese began to open fast food places in my city. There, they sold the delicacies typical of Levantine gastronomy and pastry.
The Amira (a voice that means princess in Arabic) was the first. I could walk there from the School of Social Communication of my Alma Mater, the Central University of Venezuela. They democratized lamb shawarmas, which they bathed in a tahini sauce before wrapping them in pita bread.
Those Syrians and Lebanese made us eat tabbouleh, hummus, baba ganoush, falafels, and baklawas. In the midst of so much delight, I discovered shanklish. I remember ordering shanklish salad stuffed wraps instead of the delicious shawarma.
I started buying the cheese to go and replicating the shanklish salad that I liked so much at home. And every time I went to a restaurant for Middle Eastern food, I asked for it.
Where to Buy Shanklish
Shanklish is sold in markets or grocery stores where Middle Eastern food is sold. Despite this, I stopped eating it until recently, when I discovered a little Arab market less than two miles from my house. The owners are Venezuelans of Syrian origin, and they have a restaurant that, paradoxically, is called Beirut, like Lebanon’s capital.
In the Beirut shop, you can buy everything: tahini, za’atar, pita bread, baklavas, and mamuls … In the fridge where they have labneh, baba ganoush, hummus, and muhammara, I discovered the shanklish that the owner of the business makes. Now I buy it regularly: it is identical to the one I used to buy in Caracas.
How To Make Shanklish Salad
There is nothing easier. The formula that I have found and that seems perfect to me is as follows: for a part of shanklish, two of tomato and a half of red onion, a few sprigs of minced parsley to add color, and extra virgin olive oil as the only dressing. Depending on how salty the cheese is, I add or not a pinch of salt.
To make this salad you will need in addition to the shanklish some utensils and ingredients, including:
- 1 ball of Shanklish crumbling
- 2 cups tomatoes chopped
- 1/2 cup red onion minced
- 2 sprigs of parsley minced
- 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Oil Oil
- Coarse sea salt
- In a bowl, put the tomato, shanklish, onion, parsley and stir.
- Add olive oil and stir.
- Taste it and add salt, if necessary. Stir well.
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