Discovering Akawi cheese from Israel

An In-depth Glimpse Into Akawi: The Prized Cheese of the Middle East

Often overshadowed by its more famous counterparts such as feta and halloumi, Akawi (also known as Akkawi) cheese is a hidden gem of Middle Eastern cuisine. Originating from the city of Acre (Akko) in Israel, Akawi is a staple in many traditional dishes across Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and part of Turkey. The name “Akkawi” itself is a derivation from the city of its origin, illustrating its deep cultural roots. Unlike many cheeses which are known for their robust and tangy flavors, Akawi is celebrated for its mildness, making it an incredibly versatile ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes.

Akawi cheese is a white brine cheese, meaning it’s soaked in salt water as part of its preservation and maturation process. This type of ageing is key to its distinct characteristics; it provides the cheese with its semi-hard texture, its subtle saltiness, and its slight tang. Often made from cow or sheep’s milk, it has a smooth, elastic texture and a uniquely subtle flavor that becomes slightly tangy when the cheese is aged. However, Akawi never becomes too sharp or overwhelming, making it ideal for a wide array of culinary uses.

The unique characteristics of Akawi include:

  • Texture: Akawi is renowned for its semi-hard, elastic texture. When heated, it softens rather than melting completely, making it perfect for grilled or fried dishes.
  • Taste: Unlike many other cheeses, Akawi is not characterized by a strong, tangy flavor. Instead, it offers a mild, slightly salty taste that blends well with other ingredients in a dish.
  • Versatility: Due to its mildness, Akawi is incredibly versatile. It can easily star in a main course dish, contribute to a balanced breakfast, or add a delicate touch to sweet pastries and desserts.

Despite its relative obscurity on the international stage, Akawi has a rich history and a unique profile that makes it a standout in the world of cheese. Perfectly balancing a hint of saltiness with its characteristic mildness and distinctive texture, this Middle Eastern gem invites a breadth of culinary experimentation, ready to enchant the palate of any cheese enthusiast eager to venture beyond the conventional cheese platter.

Unraveling the Delicacies of Akawi Cheese from Israel: Test your knowledge

Welcome to our quiz on the fabulous Akawi cheese from Israel! This is a great opportunity to test your knowledge about this Middle Eastern culinary delicacy and perhaps learn a few new exciting facts about cheese crafting. So, are you ready to challenge yourself and dive into the world of Akawi cheese? Let's start!

A Journey into the Depths of Akawi Cheese: Ingredients, Properties, and Varieties

Immerse yourself in the mystical world of Akawi cheese, a delicacy hailing from the Middle East, predominantly from Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Syria – this cheese has built an inseparable connection with the Arab kitchen. Known as a white brine cheese, Akawi is a semi-hard cheese crafted predominantly from unpasteurized cow’s milk, although variants with goat or sheep milk are also available. Its characteristic slightly tangy flavor and elastic texture are the outcomes of its unique production process involving acidification, salting, and brining – adding a rich layer of sensory experience to your cheese exploration.

When it comes to properties, the moisture content of Akawi usually spans between 45-50%, with a fat content of around 18-30%. It boasts a smooth elastic texture that is slightly rubbery to touch. The taste profile is a delicate dance of mild, slightly tangy notes with a briny finish, a testament to the intricate brining process it undergoes. It’s typically unsalted, but a light salting can give it an accentuated flavor depth, making it an adaptable ingredient in various culinary ventures. Akawi has a longer shelf life compared to its other cheese counterparts, making it a cost-effective choice for cheese aficionados.

Akawi cheese comes in several varieties that add to its appeal:

  • Unsalted Akawi: This variant is known for its soft and mild taste, predominantly used for stuffing pastries and bagels. With no added salt, this cheese showcases the original flavors of the milk it’s made from.
  • Lightly Salted Akawi: Opting for a pinch of salt, this Akawi variant is ideal for cheese lovers who prefer a subtle saline touch. It serves as a great component in sandwiches or salads.
  • Smoked Akawi: A fumigated treat for palate explorers, this version offers a smoky aftertaste, introducing a unique twist to the classic Akawi cheese. It pairs well with a glass of crisp white wine.

Whether spread in a warm pita sandwich, strewn across a salad, or savored alone, Akawi provides a versatile and sophisticated dairy experience. With its rich heritage and distinct flavor profile, Akawi remains an unsung hero among the numerous international cheese varieties. Its diverse variants ensure that, whether you are a mild unsalted cheese fan or a smoky flavor enthusiast, Akawi has a version to beautifully complement your gastronomic preferences.

Akawi Cheese: A Delight from the Middle East

Akawi cheese is a traditional Middle Eastern cheese that originates from the Levant region, which includes countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Jordan. It is a semi-soft, white cheese with a mild, slightly salty flavor and a smooth, creamy texture. Akawi cheese is widely cherished in Middle Eastern cuisine and is often used in various dishes, both savory and sweet.

Akawi cheese is prepared using cow’s milk, which is curdled and then brined to give it its characteristic taste and texture. It has a distinctive stretchy and elastic quality when melted, making it an excellent choice for cooking and baking. The cheese is typically formed into small, round shapes or larger blocks, depending on the preference of the cheesemaker.

When it comes to culinary applications, Akawi cheese shines through its versatility. It can be eaten fresh and enjoyed on its own or paired with fruits, olives, and bread. It is also commonly melted and used as a filling for pastries, sandwiches, and traditional dishes like manaqish (Levantine flatbread topped with various ingredients).

Here are some key details about Akawi cheese:

  • Akawi cheese originates from the Levant region in the Middle East.
  • It is a semi-soft, white cheese with a mild, slightly salty flavor.
  • The cheese is made from cow’s milk and is curdled and brined.
  • Akawi cheese has a smooth, creamy texture and a stretchy consistency when melted.
  • It is commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine, both as a standalone cheese and as a cooking ingredient.

Akawi cheese is a true delight for cheese connoisseurs who appreciate the unique flavors and textures of Middle Eastern cuisine. Whether enjoyed on its own or incorporated into a delicious recipe, Akawi cheese is sure to enhance any dining experience with its distinct character and versatility.

Facts and figures

  • Akawi cheese is one of the most popular cheese varieties in Israel and the Middle East.
  • Traditionally, Akawi cheese is made using cow's milk, not goat's or sheep's milk.
  • Despite being named after the city of Acre (Akko in Hebrew), Akawi cheese is enjoyed throughout the region.
  • Akawi cheese is well-known for its versatility, being suitable for both savory dishes and desserts.
  • The cheese is usually consumed fresh, and hence doesn't require a long aging process as many other cheese varieties do.
  • While pure Akawi cheese is naturally unsalted, a slightly salted variant is also available to cater to different flavor preferences.
  • In recent years, there has been a growing demand for Israeli cheeses, including Akawi, in international markets.

Gourmet Recipes Highlighting the Delicate Flavor of Akawi Cheese

Originating from the Middle Eastern countries of Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine, Akawi cheese has a slightly salty taste and a smooth, semi-hard texture that seamlessly blend into an array of delightful dishes. The cheese is traditionally made from cow’s milk, but variations using goat’s or sheep’s milk are also not unusual. Produced through a delicate process which includes continually stirring the cheese in a heated vat and then rinsed to remove the whey, Akawi is a perfect fit for a variety of culinary adventures. Here below are two gourmet recipes featuring this unique cheese.

1. Akawi Cheese with Honey and Walnuts

 Ingredients: - 200 grams of Akawi Cheese - 2 tablespoons of honey - 50 grams of walnuts - Slices of fresh baguette Instructions: 1. Place the Akawi cheese on a serving dish. 2. Drizzle honey evenly over the cheese. 3. Coarsely chop the walnuts and sprinkle them on top. 4. Serve with slices of fresh baguette for a sweet and savory appetizer. 

This simple yet decadent dish combines the subtle salty undertones of Akawi with the natural sweetness of honey and the earthy crunch of walnuts. It serves as an excellent appetizer or dessert and pairs wonderfully with a light-bodied white wine or a fruity red.

2. Stuffed Bell Peppers with Akawi Cheese

 Ingredients: - 4 large bell peppers - 200 grams of Akawi Cheese - 150 grams of quinoa - 1 medium onion, finely diced - 2 cloves of garlic, minced - 2 tablespoons of olive oil - Salt and black pepper to taste Instructions: 1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Halve the peppers lengthwise, remove seeds, and arrange in a baking dish. 2. Cook quinoa as per package instructions and set aside. 3. In a skillet, sauté onions and garlic with olive oil until translucent. 4. Add cooked quinoa to the sautéed onions, and add crumbled Akawi cheese. Stir until the cheese is fully melted. Season with salt and pepper. 5. Spoon the quinoa and cheese mixture into each pepper half. 6. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the peppers are softened. 7. Serve hot with a side salad. 

In this recipe, the Akawi cheese becomes a creamy and rich addition to the quinoa stuffing for bell peppers. The final product is a nutritious dish that is rich in protein and packed with flavor, beautifully showcasing the versatility of Akawi cheese.

Perfect Wine and Food Pairings for the Eminent Akawi Cheese

Akawi cheese, revered as the crown jewel of Middle Eastern dairy products, engenders culinary allure through its versatile characteristics. As a stark contrast to piquant cheese variants, Akawi’s mild and subtly salty flavor profile can seamlessly integrate into appetizers, main courses, to desserts. This profiles it as an undeniably adaptable cheese, opening avenues for splendid gastronomic explorations. To elevate its captivating note, pairing it meticulously with the right wine and dishes could manifest a gustatory experience that transcends the ordinary.

When it comes to wine compatibility, Chardonnay and Roussanne wines are inarguably suitable counterparts. These wines, owing to their fuller body and fruit-forward profiles, have an affinity for the delicate yet notable traits of Akawi cheese. Chardonnay, with its distinct buttery notes and hints of tropical fruit, complements the subdued saltiness of Akawi. The bright acidity in the wine cuts through the cheese’s dense texture without overpowering its taste. Conversely, Roussanne, a white wine grape primarily grown in the Rhône region of France, unveils a profound layer of flavors – from floral to nutty and herbal tones. Its rich taste harmoniously blends with Akawi’s gentle brininess, creating a balance where no singular profile dominates.

The culinary adaptability of Akawi cheese is second to none, reflecting proficiency in various culinary domains. Here are some of the signature dishes that can benefit from its mellow, milky charm:

  • Manakish Za’atar: This traditional Lebanese flatbread, when topped with a blend of Akawi cheese and zestful Za’atar, offers a delightful contrast between floral, herbaceous notes, and the mild cheesiness.
  • Knafeh: This classical Levantine dessert, composed of fine semolina dough and sweet cheese filling, elevated by Akawi cheese, promises this dessert a potent seduction with its unassertive salty attribute amicably opposing the sweet syrup.
  • Shawarma with a twist: A lush Akawi cheese melt in a Shawarma wrap provides a surprising twist, its subtle, stretchy richness acts as a mediator among the plethora of spices, meat, and veggies involved.

In conclusion, every meticulously curated pairing with Akawi cheese can create an experience where its attributes are not only complemented but celebrated. This Mediterranean marvel can uplift any dish or wine pairing, manifesting unimagined territories of flavor.

Similar Cheeses for Akawi

Akawi is a semi-soft, white cheese that originates from the Middle East. It is a popular cheese that is known for its mild, creamy taste and smooth texture. If you are a fan of Akawi cheese and want to explore similar options, here are some other cheeses you might enjoy:

1. Halloumi: Halloumi is a traditional cheese from Cyprus, made from a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk. It has a firm, yet flexible texture and a slightly salty flavor. Halloumi is often grilled or pan-fried, giving it a deliciously crispy exterior while maintaining its creamy interior.

2. Paneer: Paneer is a fresh cheese commonly used in Indian cuisine. It is made by curdling milk with lemon juice or vinegar, resulting in a soft cheese with a slightly tangy taste. Paneer is often cubed and used in curries, stir-fries, or grilled as a tasty vegetarian option.

3. Queso Blanco: Queso Blanco, meaning “white cheese” in Spanish, is a popular Latin American cheese. It is a mild, unaged cheese that is often used as a melting cheese in dishes like enchiladas or quesadillas. Queso Blanco has a soft and slightly crumbly texture with a delicate, milky flavor.

4. Farmer Cheese: Farmer cheese is a soft, unripened cheese that is often made from cow’s milk. It has a slightly tangy taste and a creamy texture. Farmer cheese can be enjoyed on its own, spread on bread or crackers, or used in cooking for dishes like blintzes or cheesecakes.

These cheeses offer similar qualities to Akawi, with their mild flavors, creamy textures, and versatility in cooking. Whether you are looking to try new recipes or enjoy them on their own, these cheeses will surely delight your taste buds.

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About the author: Dr. Wolfgang Sender writes on international careers. He is founder of and

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