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How to Prepare the Arabic Spice Zaatar?

Nadia Galinova
Translated by
Nadia Galinova
How to Prepare the Arabic Spice Zaatar?

Za'atar is a word used to name a spice mix that tastes like thyme and oregano. It is sometimes also called wild thyme and grows on the slopes of the Syrian-Lebanese mountains, and the spice of the same name is actually a mixture of several other aromatic plants and toasted sesame seeds, which are enhanced by the taste of salt.

Za'atar celebrates its holiday on September 23, which is Za'atar Spice Day.

The other Middle Eastern culinary gem, sumac, is also present in the recipe for making Za'atar. This spice initially looks like a tempting berry with its bright red fruit, which are sold dried and roughly grinded.

Its taste is sour and reminiscent of a cranberry. Instead of using sumac, Middle Eastern cooks sometimes prepare the spice with citric acid or grinded dried lemon peels. Citrus thyme, more popularly known as lemon thyme, can also be used to maintain the sour taste.

It would not be wrong to say that Za'atar is the Middle Eastern mixed herbs with salt. For breakfast, Israelis, for example, sprinkle it on bread with a little olive oil, on pieces of white cheese, or add it to strained yogurt. You may also find it complementing the flavor of Jewish spinach pastries or pizzas.

Сумакът е част от Заатар

Za'atar can be added to flavor-rich dishes on the lunch and dinner menu. The aromatic mixture can be rubbed into fish or chicken, or added to grill marinades, red meats, or roasted vegetables.

If you want to make a great thick sauce to accompany potato chips with the spirit of the famous spice, you can start with some strained yogurt, feta cheese, fresh garlic, olive oil and finish off with za'atar. Pour the entire mixture into a food processor and blend.

You can find Za'atar at most Middle Eastern grocery stores or organic grocery stores.

And here's how you can, and very easily, prepare Za'atar at home.

Products required:

4 tablespoons of sesame seeds

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano

4 tablespoons dried marjoram

4 teaspoons of sumac

1 teaspoon of sea salt

4 teaspoons cumin

Method of preparation:

In a dry pan, toast the sesame seeds over high heat for one to two minutes. Pour all ingredients into a blender and blend until finely blended. Store the mixture in a jar in the refrigerator for one week. If you want the spice to have a longer shelf life, simply replace fresh oregano with dried in the recipe.