Make Your Own Laben (Buttermilk) - the Traditional Way!

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READY IN: 72hrs
Recipe by Um Safia

Laban (known as Le babeurre in French & buttermilk in English) is an important staple in the diet of many North African & Middle Eastern countries. These days it is incredibly simple to go to the store & buy it but if you cannot find it or just want to have a go at making it, then this is a great recipe. This is the traditional method of making laben, for a truly authentic taste use milk straight from the farm. If you can't get milk that fresh, regular full fat milk from the store is fine. You will need a 2 things to make the laben with (other than the ingredients!) 1st: A pot to store the milk in whilst it's 'sitting' - traditionally we use a large clay pot but any pot or pan large enough should do. 2nd: You will need a large bottle, like the kind get water in - with a capacity of around 6 litres if making the full amount of the recipe. The amounts in this recipe can easily be adjusted to allow you to make more or less laben.

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 3 12 liters whole milk
  • 12 liter warm water


  1. Pour the milk into the pot, cover with a plate or tray etc.
  2. Leave the milk to 'sit' for a day or two, out of direct sunlight (this recipe is based on a warm climate - this process may take a bit longer in a colder climate but never leave the milk longer than 3-4 days).
  3. Once the milk has totally coagulated - it will resemble a blancmange at this stage - put the milk into your large bottle.
  4. Now add the warm water to the bottle with the milk, fasten the lid tightly & begin shaking it. Shake for 20 minutes to begin with.
  5. After 20 minutes check to see if the milk & water has thoroughly combined. If it hasn't, shake it some more! You should eventually end up with a liquid that resembles single cream -- now you have laben.
  6. Pour the laben into a pan & scoop off the little yellow blobs of butter & store them in a container for later use!
  7. Now you should have traditional laben, keep it stored in the fridge if not using immediately.

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