I remember coming across this term for the first time last April during one of the Blogging Marathon sessions – Pradnya’s Za’atar Focaccia – that caught my eye and I was wondering what za’atar was. My son was just a month old then so I did not have much time to Google search. I looked it up much much later and one of the articles I came across recently which talks at great length about this Middle-eastern spice was at the David Lebovitz site. It makes for interesting reading and also has a few recipes you could try with this spice mix.
An interesting fact I learnt was that za’atar is the name of a spice as well as a popular spice mix that includes za’atar and is used all over the Middle East. A za’atar mix would typically include za’atar, sumac and sesame seeds and could include any of the other common spices used in the region. Amusingly, it is sesame seeds and not za’atar that’s the most expensive spice in the mix!
After all the reading up, on za’atar, I was very curious to know more about this unique spice. In fact, it came second on my list of spices I was really looking forward to trying out. So, when my parents planned a visit to the US in May this year, Za’atar featured prominently on my list of please-buy that I’d given them. If you’re curious to know the other two items on that list, the first one’s culinary lavender and the third one is loomi (dried black limes that is used in some versions of Baharat), both of which are still elusive!
My father did buy me a small box of this spice mix and I couldn’t have been happier! I was thinking about what recipe I must use this first in. First I thought I’d make some Hummus and top it with Za’atar vinaigrette. But then I was really looking forward to making the Hummus with the Harissa paste that my father had also got from the US. So I thought the next best thing would be to make pita bread flavoured with za’atar. And that’s what I made. And I did that in two ways – in one version, I added the za’atar into the pita dough and in the second one, I made plain pita bread, smeared some olive oil over it and sprinkled over some za’atar.
I also made a very simple salad and added the za’atar spice mix to it and teamed it with the pita chips and the hummus. The salad was my top pick. It brought out the flavour of the za’atar the best. For the pita bread, you could refer to either this or this recipe. To make the pita chips, just cut them into wedges and bake them till crisp. Incidentally, if you’re thinking my pita looks like roti, that’s because I tend to make the pita bread on stove top as I feel they are faster to make that way. Plus, I’m not so fond of the pale coloured ones in the oven-version. The recipe for the simplest of simple Za’atar salad is below
(To go with pita chips and hummus. Could also be stuffed inside pita pockets)
Just mix 1 finely diced Onion, 1 finely diced Capsicum and half a teaspoon of Za’atar (and Salt if your za’atar mix doesn’t have it).
Dip your pita chips into olive oil laced hummus and scoop up some Za’atar salad on to it and munch away
This post is for the A-Z series Blogging Marathon for the month of Sept. Alphabet – Z, Theme – International. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 32
Logo courtesy : Preeti
Check the link below for lots of recipes that start with Z!