The Middle East is no stranger to strife, and its kitchens are nearly as contentious as its borders. The catalyst for all of the culinary unrest? A regional spice mix called za’atar. The exact formulation varies across countries—nay, across households even—and every believes its recipe to be superior.
We right here at Man Gourmand take a more reasonable stance: I’ve by no means encountered za’atar I didn’t like, zatar and I’ve yet to come across a dish that didn’t benefit from its addition.
So what precisely is this marvel ingredient? Za’atar is a mix of sumac, sesame seeds, thyme, and salt, with cumin, oregano, and different spices occasionally being included as well. Earthy, savory, and tremendously fragrant, it is answerable for much of the pervasive, iconic flavor related Mediterranean food.
True purists craft their very own, however packaged blends are readily available online or at Mediterranean specialty retailers, and plenty of mainstream grocers, including Entire Foods, carry it as well. Oh, and earlier than you hit the store? It’s pronounced “zAH-tahr,” with no nasal “aeh” inflection. (Keep in mind: It’s a spice, not a strep culture.)
Now, likelihood is, you’ve already skilled this transformative ingredient; you just may not have been able to determine it. You understand the ultra-authentic, luxuriant hummus that makes the shop-purchased stuff taste like reconstituted gerbil food? Teeming with za’atar. Or how concerning the vibrant, taste-dense Greek salads you can never appear to recreate as soon as dwelling? Positively brimming with it. However conventional functions are just the beginning—this versatile ingredient works far beyond Mediterranean waters. Listed below are just a few extra options:
Blend it with sufficient olive oil to kind either a thick spread or a looser dip, and use with bread (pita, if you happen to’re shooting for authenticity; if not, crusty, contemporary ciabatta or different Italian bread additionally works effectively)
Combine one part za’atar with one part breadcrumbs. Coat pounded chicken breasts in egg wash, followed by breadcrumbs, and pan-fry. Serve with tzaziki for a Middle Eastern spin on a Southern classic.
Coat a round of goat cheese in za’atar, then partially submerge in marinara in an oven-proof bowl. Place beneath the broiler until the marina simmers and the highest of the cheese begins to brown. Serve with bread.
Mix za’atar, Greek yogurt, white wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and crushed red pepper for a creamy salad dressing or all-goal sauce
Sprinkle it over pizza (both your own or carryout)
Add it to scrambled eggs or omelets
Use it as a rub for grilled fish
Or just sauté and toss shrimp with za’atar, season Greek yogurt with smoked paprika and za’atar, and assemble on toast.
These are just a number of ideas to get you started. Give them a shot or provide you with your own. Both means, clear some area in your spice rack—this is one ingredient you’ll want to preserve shut at hand.