Z is for Za’atar

Za’atar is a Middle Eastern Spice blend. The name of the blend comes from the herb of the same name, za’atar,  which is in the thyme family of herbs, whose leaves are ground into the blend with ground sumac and toasted sesame seeds to create a beautiful olive green powder with sesame seeds. This exotic seasoning is great on so many things, from chicken and fish to flatbreads and vegetables.  It is even delicious sprinkled on goat cheese and served on a cracker or wedge of pita.  I bought the za’atar in the photo below in the Jerusalem Market when I was last in Israel, however it is very easy to make and you will be able to find many recipes on the internet or in your home cookbooks.zaatar5 You’ll also be able to find it in most supermarkets.  There is so much more to tell you about za’atar but here is more detailed information:  Wilipedia: Za’atar  …I would like to concentrate on the recipes and share them with you! While I was researching za’atar blends, I discovered that there is a ‘redder’ mixture known as Syrian za’atar.  I could not find it in my local travels but I found various recipes and chose the combination below because its blend was more complex in flavour and aroma due to the paprika and cumin seeds and the increased amount of sumac.   I love the taste and colour of sumac; it is ground from a deep burgundy berry concentrated with floral and sour-lemon flavours; I have sprinkled it on hummus before serving.  That is how I saw it served in Amman, Jordan….gives an extra punch of flavour to the pureed chickpeas! zaatar1 1/4 cup sumac 2 tsp. dried thyme leaves 1 tsp. cumin seeds 1/2 tsp. paprika 1 tbsp.sesame seeds Put the cumin seeds and sesame seeds in a frying pan on medium heat and dry roast for a few minutes until you can smell the cumin.  Take off the heat and cool.  Put all the ingredients in the grinder and pulse a few times until the cumin seeds are crushed…Specks of sesame seeds are fine. zaatar2 zaatar4 Here is a photo of pita chips with both za’atar blends. They are simple to make at home.  I dabbed olive oil on pita wedges, and sprinkled za’atar on each wedge and baked for about 12 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees C and there you have it; homemade pita chips!

pitachips

I have posted two recipes with za’atar, the first is a Salmon with Za’atar and the second is my own version of Chicken Schnitzel with za’atar as a seasoning. They both got thumbs-up at dinner over the last two nights so I am proud to share them with you!

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6 comments

  1. D BEN-REUVEN · · Reply

    what an amazing chef.  I can’t keep up and am amazed at what you come up with.  Ira would love me to be as adventurous but I’ll let him make up these recipes that interest him.  Love your posts and the pictures and the detail instructions.

    ________________________________

  2. Frances harris · · Reply

    Interesting and informative stuff

  3. oh darn… we missed the taste testing.. i remember eating zatar on fresh bread in Jerusalem not far from the Aish Building… fond memories…

    1. there will be some other za’atar recipes uploading soon!!

  4. Ellen Gelman · · Reply

    Now I have a new favourite Z word .My first was Zorro…exotic,mysterious,now it’s Za’atar mmmmm
    delish Thanks for expanding my culinary alphabet

  5. This is really different! Not sure we can find the Z herb here, but we could improvise with thyme – lots of different one available!

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