This popular Middle Eastern Spice recipe is simply a blend of dried herbs, toasted sesame and coriander seeds, brightened by sumac. It is easy to make and always a staple in my pantry.
The flavor is a blend of nutty, herbal and tangy, which makes it fantastic for anything from Lamb ribs, salad, homemade bread to a favorite soup or omelette! Or get a little cheeky and sprinkle it on your popcorn for a burst of delightful savory flavors!
What Is Za’atar?
Za’atar is one of those very distinct spices. It’s not one spice, but rather a well selected group of spices that when combined, take on an entirely new character.
Za’atar is a diverse blend of herbs, seeds and spices most commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking. Most often za’atar is a combination of dried marjoram, thyme and oregano (the woodsy and floral herbs), with toasted sesame and coriander seeds (for a nutty and bright flavor) and, my most favorite, sumac (a citrusy tangy flavor).
Other flavors can be brought to the mix as well, toasted cumin seeds, Aleppo chili or dried dill.
Why Make Your Own Za’atar?
Believe it or not, ounce for ounce, it is actually less expensive to mix your own blended spices than it is to buy them already mixed.
Mixing your own gives you the ability to dry some of the fresh herbs yourself, especially if you grow them in the summer or simply bought too many at the market and don’t want them to go to waste.
Sumac – A Favorite Middle Eastern Spice
Sumac is a red berry that has been dried and crushed. It has a fruity, slightly sour, almost citrusy flavor. This spice is easy to order on line from a variety of places and I use it in almost everything I enjoy the taste of lemon or lime in.
Why Toast Your Own Seeds?
The seeds are where the oil is and the oil is where the problem can lie. Oil goes rancid after a period of time. It has a distinct smell. Even our lipstick and body lotions, which are made of oils, after a period of time go rancid and take on a very disagreeing smell. The last thing I want to do is eat something with that smell and taste.
Purchasing good quality raw seeds and lightly toasting them yourself allows you to smell the seeds from the time of purchase and then control just how nutty you want them to taste, based on the time of toasting.
The best way to store seeds, when you purchase, is in the fridge or freezer, even after toasting.
Uses For Za’atar In Popular Middle Eastern Recipes
The uses for Za’atar spice blend are endless!
- Add to your Hummus
- Elevate your Baba Ghanoush
- Brush olive oil across pita bread, sprinkle za’atar and lightly toast this in the oven for a fabulous snack or addition to a tapas table.
- Add it to the dough in homemade bread.
- Sprinkle on salads
- Season Lamb Ribs, soups or stews.
You will need little else to flavor food when cooking with za’atar, though garlic and fresh lemon pairs well with the za’atar spice blend.
- Sesame seeds
- Coriander seeds
- Sea salt
- Mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Small sauté pan
- Airtight container
Homemade Za’atar Spice RecipeCourse: SpicesCuisine: Mediterranean
A blend of dried herbs, oregano, marjoram and thyme with toasted sesame and coriander seeds, brightened by sumac, a citrusy dried berry.
Sumac – 1/2 cup
Thyme – 4 tablespoons
Oregano – 4 tablespoons
Marjoram – 4 tablespoons
Sesame seeds – 2 tablespoons, lightly toasted
Coriander seeds – 1 tablespoon, lightly toasted
Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon
- Lightly toast the sesame seeds and coriander seeds. Mix the ingredients together and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
- There are many versions of homemade za’atar, depending on the region. My recipe is based on my Syrian mother’s blend.