Iqt (or Aqt), also known as jameed in other parts of the Arab world, is a type of cheese that is produced by hand and is made into the shape of a circle and has a hard texture and consistency.
Iqt is a widely unknown product, but it has a very historic extension. It was the inhabitants of the Bedouin who first worked on this product to take advantage of the milk that was available, and to preserve it by drying it to not discard any excess liquid milk, especially in the spring with dairy populations. The Bedouins transformed it into a dried product in this way, and it became one of their most important foods.
Iqt is made from milk that is turned into yogurt, called laban. Milk is pumped into special containers made from goat skin (called Al-shakwa), and then shaken to separate the laban from the butter in the milk. The butter is then removed from the milk and is called makhid or shaneineh at that stage. It is then boiled until the water evaporates and reduces to a paste in the bottom of the pot. It is transferred into a heavy, clay molds, which can be round or square, or other shapes the iqt maker chooses, and then placed in a bowl of gauze for at least a day to drain excess water. Finally, a little salt is added and is formed into balls by hand and later dried in the sun.
In the Arabian Peninsula, jameed is often known by its historical name, iqt, especially in the central regions of the country and among the Hijaz tribes. In some areas, it is also known as biqil or mudheer. It is formed in the palms of the hands, where it takes its shape, and is eaten with dates and yogurt or added to meat dishes or soup as well as jareesh, an ancient dish still eaten today with ingredients including yogurt and wheat, where iqt is sometimes added for a stronger taste.
Iqt is known and abundant in the Bedouin and peasant communities as well as in urban areas. Iqt was more spread in Hijaz, Yamama, and Najd from before Islam. Iqt in Saudi Arabia is distinguished from other countries by being available in two varieties, the better-known one is brittle, soft, and moist with medium salinity. It can be eaten at any time, alone or in combination with dates or other types of food.
The lack of interest towards traditional food products may gradually lead to the disappearance of this kind of historical legacy. Local communities preserve this kind of heritage is done by sharing it, by holding events, and by raising awareness about it, not only on the national level but also on the international level.
It is produced in small quantities because of its long production process, its time and effort requirements, and the large amount of required raw material for milk. It is usually sold on a small scale in popular marketing outlets. The reason for its disappearance is mainly due to modern dietary patterns and industrial alternatives, but this product is still in demand. It is delicious, beneficial, very healthy and most importantly, has a connection with the appreciation of guests, customs and traditions of generosity and hospitality.
The selection of the products is supported by the Culinary Arts Commission of the Ministry of Culture of Saudi Arabia.
In collaboration with Azka Farms, Saudi Arabia.