Buried Cheese (Joopta Doomirtah)

Buried cheese? Yes, buried cheese! You see, that is a direct translation for this recipe’s Assyrian title “Joopta (cheese) Doomirtah (buried).” But don’t worry, I won’t ask you to bury anything, I promise! The name buried cheese simply describes how this recipe used to be prepared in Iraq in the old days. Mom shared that a large clay jar would be filled with cheese and spices, then topped with sheep’s wool. The opening of the clay jar would then be covered with muslin and tied in place with rope. Mud was smeared over the muslin to seal the jar.

 

But Was It Really Buried?

So what’s with the “buried” part? Well, that’s what came next; the jar would be buried, upside down. Over time, the wool would absorb the excess oil and liquid that drained from the cheese. During the summer months, the jar was watered regularly. Why? Who knows! But come winter, the jar would finally be unearthed, revealing that the cheese had aged to perfection! At that point the jar would be turned right side up and returned to the ground to keep cool. Each day the jar would be accessed to scoop out just enough cheese to have with breakfast. Is that the coolest story, or what? Obviously, this recipe isn’t 100% authentic, since we’re not burying and aging the cheese. However, it is a good substitute for the original recipe, and way more convenient! After all, who wants to be caught by their neighbors, burying things in their backyards?



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Buried Cheese (Joopta Doomirtah)
buried cheese
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
buried cheese
Instructions
  1. Grate the cheese using a medium grater.
    buried cheese
  2. Soak the anise, caraway, and cumin seeds in water for 15 minutes, to soften them.
  3. Drain the seeds onto paper towels and then pat dry.
    buried cheese
  4. Stir the seeds into the cheese. Add crumbled blue cheese if using. Blue cheese will make the cheese mixture creamier. I have it as optional because not everyone likes blue cheese, but I personally love it! Grab handfuls of the cheese and seeds and rub between your hands, and drop back into the bowl.
  5. Continue doing this until the cheese no longer resembles grated cheese and begins to clump together. This process helps the flavors of the seeds to infuse into the cheese.
    buried cheese
  6. Pour the cheese into a glass jar or container. Press down with your hands to compact the cheese. Why? Because that's what mom did, don't question mom!
    buried cheese
  7. To serve, simply spoon a few tablespoons of cheese into toasted pita bread pockets. Serve with Kalamata olives and hot tea.
    buried cheese
  8. This cheese can be refrigerate for up to a month.
Recipe Notes

Goes Great With

Perfect Pita Bread

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2 thoughts on “Buried Cheese (Joopta Doomirtah)”

    • Hi Hala,
      I recognized your name, thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you enjoyed the kubba and I really appreciate your comment. Please let me know what you think of the buried cheese!

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