Keeping Cool with Madzoon (plain yogurt)

With summer temperatures rising all across the globe, we thought we’d offer three of our favorite cool and refreshing madzoon recipes – no cooking required!

1. Tahn

Add enough water to plain yogurt so that it’s thin enough to drink. Stir to remove any lumps.

Crush a little dried mint (fresh can be used as well, but bruise the leaves a little to release more of that minty flavor), sprinkle a little salt – optional – and add an ice cube.

2. Chilled Yogurt-Cucumber Soup (Jajik)

Yield: about 4 servings


1 long, seedless cucumber, washed and peeled
2 cups plain yogurt
½ cup cold water
1 clove garlic, squeezed through a garlic press, or hand-mashed (optional)
Dash salt
2 tsp. crushed dried mint


1. Cut the cucumber in quarters, lengthwise. Slice each section into thin pieces.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt with the water.
3. To the yogurt, stir in cucumbers, garlic, if using, salt, and mint. To keep this very cold, add a few ice cubes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

4. To serve, stir, ladle into bowls, and add an ice cube in each bowl. Garnish with fresh sprigs of mint.

3. Yogurt “Cheese”

1. Line a large strainer with cheesecloth or coffee filters. Set the strainer on top of a bowl or large liquid measuring cup.
2. Place 2 cups (more or less) of plain yogurt into the lined strainer.
3. Cover the top of the strainer with plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator – bowl and all- for up to 24 hours. The whey (liquid portion of the yogurt) will drip into the bowl. What will be left in the strainer is the curd, “yogurt cheese”.
4. The yield will be at least half the original amount of yogurt you started with.

Here are a few ways to use yogurt cheese:

* As a spread (add your favorite seasonings)
* As a dip with olive oil

* Shape into small balls and coat with sesame seeds, chopped parsley, zataar, etc. (makes a nice appetizer)
* Mix with pasta to create a cream-like sauce
* Blend with sun-dried tomatoes or red roasted peppers in food processor, then spread on crackers, pita bread
* When making tuna or chicken salad, use instead of mayonnaise

View Comments

  • Regarding the yogurt "cheese", I should mention that using a good quality yogurt (without any additives, starch, tapioca, etc.) is essential. You should also use whole-milk plain yogurt only (not low-fat or non-fat). You may even consider adding a little whipping cream or creme fraiche to the finished product (in the old days, yogurt was made from whole, non-homogenized milk that had as much as an inch of cream on top).

  • Thanks for the additional information, Ara!
    You are so right...
    It's all of those fat calories that make the yogurt cheese so sinfully delicious.

  • I received a wonderful starter for my madzoon from a close family friend and my first two batches turned out perfectly, but my third batch is grainy/lumpy--almost like cottage cheese (the flavor is still consistent)... What could have caused this? And can I still use this batch of madzoon as a starter for this week's batch?

    • Possible reasons for failure: 1) The milk might not have been at the right temperature (32 to 49 degrees F) when the starter was added. 2) The yogurt's incubation temperature might have been either too low or too high. 3)The wrong amount of starter might have been added - too much or too little can cause the yogurt to separate. I hope this helps.
      Can you use this batch as a starter? All I can suggest is to give it a try and see. Good luck, and let us know what you ended up doing, and the results. Thanks!

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