Za’atar – a must have spice mix


Here is another of my ‘must-have’ spice mixes. Za’atar is both a spice mix and a herb in it’s own right. As a herb it has long green leaves and a thyme-savory-oregano flavour, and it grows along the slopes of the Syrian-Lebanese mountains.

The spice mix is very simple to prepare and is very versatile as well as being a key ingredient in eastern Mediterranean cooking. It is great when used as a sprinkle on bread with olive oil, or your can roll soft cheese in it as part of a mezze.  I like to make my own but you can buy it ready made in many supermarkets or speciality stores. Here are two of  the recipes  that I use and I generally have both to hand. I do make sure however that if I am serving to guests and I am using the second recipe, that there are peanuts in it, just in case of anyone having an allergy.


2 tablespoons dried oregano or thyme

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1 tablespoon crushed sumac

1 tablespoon dried marjoram

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all the ingredients together well and store in a jar away from sunlight for up to 12 months.


Alleppo Za’atar

1/4 cup thyme

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

1 star anise

2 tablespoons salt flakes

1/4 cup unsalted peanuts

1/4 ground sumac

1/4 cup roasted sesame seeds

Place the thyme, cumin and coriander seeds in a spice grinder and grind until fine. To prevent having a powdery dust, run the mixture through a fine sieve, reserving the mix in the sieve and discarding the powder. Transfer to a bowl.
Grind the star anise and salt flakes until fine and add to the bowl. Grind the peanuts until medium-fine then add to the bowl with the sumac and sesame seeds, Mix together well.
Place in an airtight container and store in the cupboard away from sunlight for up to 12 months.




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