In Israel we love to eat the soft yogurt cheese called labaneh, scooping it off the plate with pita.
But Nissim, our excellent guide through the Bedouin part of the Beer Sheva market, explained that labaneh can also be made into these dried lumps.
Strained labaneh is pressed in its cheese cloth
between two heavy stones and later sun dried.
The balls can be easily stored and for a long time.
Arabs have been doing this for hundreds of years.
I guess when Bedouin were still largely nomadic, it was easy to transport the labaneh in such form; add water and it is easily reconstituted to soft yogurt cheese.
The labaneh made by Arabs in the southern Hebron Hills is slightly different in shape from that made by the Bedouin here in the Negev.
One version is round and the other is oval.
To see how women in the nearby village of Dirijat produce labaneh, please see my pictures from 2008, when I spent five days living there, learning Arabic.