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For those of you who are looking to lose weight, you should incorporate dairy products in your diet, such as a glass of skimmed milk or yoghurt along with an improved lifestyle.

However, what about people who are lactose intolerant? The ideal options for them should be yoghurts and cheeses, especially those made with rennet, a complex of enzymes that help digest milk.

Halloumi cheese is one such cheese. It has fewer calories and fat content than other cheeses, making it a good option for weight conscious people. The high protein content in halloumi means that not only is it good for your hair, bones and nails, it also does not melt when heated; in fact it becomes soft and chewy which makes it a very versatile ingredient.

Native to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, this textured, white cheese is intrinsically different from the more well-known cheeses as it is made from a combination of goat’s and sheep’s milk (many other cheeses such as cheddar are made from cow’s milk). No wonder then, it is becoming very popular in Pakistan and is appearing on the menus of most fine dining restaurants. So do try it the next time you are dining out.

You can also buy a packet of halloumi at the supermarket and experiment with it at home. It can easily be adapted to our desi cuisine too, to make paneer koftas, kababs, palak paneer and other curries.  You can also simply cut it up and serve with fresh fruit, salads and on canapés. You can have a thick slice of fried halloumi with warm bread and roast beef. Or you can grill chunks of it on skewers. Either way, I am sure you will find it to be as delicious as I do.

However, because halloumi is preserved in brine with mint leaves, it is salty, so remember to soak it in water for at least an hour before digging into it. n

– Dr Nezihe S Hussain
The writer is a surgeon by profession and foodie by passion.

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on October 30, 2011.

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