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I keep going to restaurants around my city (São Paulo) where in certain days of the week, some of them serve middle-eastern food.

Curiously, there's always a whitey cream that some of the restaurants call "sour cream" and some of them, call the same cream as "curd".

Sour Cream / Curd

Now I searched through Google and I discovered that both terms seem to describe different dishes, even though these restaurants interchange them as if they were the same thing.

Also, when looking on the web, I couldn't find much result on which one is right, some pages of middle-eastern cuisine doesn't even list it as one typical food, but they do list baba ghanoush and hummus, that is also served here. Which led me to think that sour cream isn't really from the middle-eastern cuisine, but just misthought to be, as it's similar to baba ghanoush and hummus.

Is sour cream and curd different food, or the same? Is it really from middle-eastern cuisine, or just some restaurants that think it is, when it isn't? And if it is, what is the correct name of it?

  • Can you tell us anything about what it tastes like? There are many yogurt-based sauces/dips in Mediterranean & Middle Eastern cuisine. See Cacik or Toum. – Catija Mar 29 '16 at 19:19
  • It tastes like milk cream, but it's very acidic. It usually won't come with mint or any other herb added to it. Just the cream and sometimes some olive oil – Gustavo Maciel Mar 29 '16 at 19:29
  • "curd" is often used with the meaning of "plain, unsweetened yoghurt" in indian recipes. – rackandboneman Mar 29 '16 at 19:35
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This looks like it's most likely labneh, a form of yogurt that's strained to remove some of its moisture. The texture can range from a thick sour-cream consistency to something like dense cream cheese, and it's common in the cuisines of the Mediterranean and Levant. Sometimes it takes the form of rolled balls, sometimes it's served as a dip or sandwich ingredient, but it always has the characteristic sour taste of yogurt. Often it's garnished with mint or za'atar, but not always, though it's usually served with olive oil.

It's also referred to variously as "strained" or "Greek" yogurt (which can mean something different than the common slightly-thickened "Greek yogurt" that's currently trendy in the United States) so I wouldn't be surprised if there were a slight difference in translation that's causing the confusion. As you've found in your research, "sour cream" in the US usually denotes cream that's cultured in the same way as yogurt. "Curd" is more confusing; in the US it usually refers to cheese formed by treating with acid to produce solid clumps, but it can also refer to similar substances produced from fruit, as in lemon curd.

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Is sour cream and curd different food, or the same? Is it really from middle-eastern cuisine, or just some restaurants that think it is, when it isn't? And if it is, what is the correct name of it?

Curds are the product of of milk that has been coagulated. It is basically the same process that makes your blood turn into scabs when we bleed. When acids like lemon juice or citric acid or rennet is introduced to the milk the process of curdling is initiated. This leads to the milk proteins (Casein) to form solid masses which is what results in curds.

Sour Cream on the other hand is cream that has been fermented with the use of certain lactic acid producing bacteria. The lactic acid that the bacteria produces thickens and sours the cream.

  • This answer seems strange. Are you implying that "souring" and "curdling" are different processes? – rumtscho Mar 31 '16 at 14:17
  • Aah I see that last part is incorrect. I always thought that souring was just the introduction of some bacteria to promote fermentation – Neil Meyer Mar 31 '16 at 14:29
  • I see know wikipedia specifically mentions that addition of acid. – Neil Meyer Mar 31 '16 at 14:30

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