Zaatar is a traditional Middle Eastern spice blend that is commonly used in Lebanese cuisine. It consists of toasted sesame seeds, dried herbs (usually oregano and thyme), sumac, ground cumin seeds, and sea salt. This fragrant mix can be added to soups or stews, sprinkled on salads or flatbreads, or used as a dip for bread.
Zaatar is usually sold in the spice section of supermarkets and Middle Eastern grocery stores, but can also be made at home from scratch. This recipe makes enough mix to last several months in an airtight jar. It’s a great gift idea too.
Zaatar is native to the Middle East where it has been used for thousands of years in cooking. It was originally made by grinding up dry herbs with sesame seeds, salt, olive oil, and sumac berries. The earliest mentions of zaatar are found in ancient Egyptian texts.
Today, you can find a variety of packaged mixes that combine the same dry ingredients as homemade versions. Many commercial brands contain dried thyme, marjoram, and mint along with sesame seeds and sumac berries. Some manufacturers also add salt.
Zaatar is delicious with a smoked fish dip. It goes well with flatbreads, in particular pita bread and spiced flatbreads.
Zaatar is a very simple spice mix to make at home. It’s also incredibly cheap! The ingredients are easy to find in your local supermarket, so you won’t have any trouble collecting them together. You may already have the items required for this recipe on hand if you regularly cook Middle Eastern or Lebanese food.
To make your own zaatar at home, you will need to toast the sesame seeds for a few minutes until they are browned and fragrant. You can do this in a dry frying pan on the stovetop or in the oven if you prefer. Be careful not to burn them!
Once the sesame seeds are toasted, you can add them along with all of the other ingredients (oregano, thyme, sumac, and sea salt) to a spice grinder. Pulse until they form a fine powder. That’s all there is to it! You now have your own homemade zaatar spice blend in minutes.
Store your zaatar in an airtight container for up to 6 months. You can use it straight away or store it for later use. When you are ready to add some flavor to your meals, simply sprinkle the zaatar over them! It’s also delicious as a dip for bread.
Here’s a roundup of the best brands of za’atar:
6. Adonis Spices Zaatar
Adonis zaatar is made in the traditional way with 100% Lebanese ingredients. It contains sesame seeds, thyme, sumac, and salt. Its unique flavor comes from high-quality herbs which are harvested by hand at their peak of freshness. To ensure long shelf life, products are packaged in airtight, lightproof jars. This is done in small batches so freshness and quality are guaranteed.
The mix is hand-harvested from the wild thyme and oregano that grow naturally in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, then sun-dried for a full month before being toasted slowly over an open flame. It has a rich, fragrant flavor that is not too salty.
5. Ziyad Brothers Zaatar
This Lebanese spice-maker has been crafting blends since 1966. Their zaatar is made from high-quality ingredients such as thyme, oregano, and sesame seeds. It’s a fine blend that adds just the right amount of flavor to home-cooked dishes without being overpowering or bitter. They also carry a zaatar spice blend for meat and poultry as well as one that is specifically for baking.
4. Kalustyan’s Za’atar
This New York City-based spice company has been in existence since 1969 and sells all manner of spices and herbs from the Middle East, Asia, and beyond. Kalustyan’s za’atar is a bit coarser than the others, which lends it a more rustic feel. It has a warm fragrance and fruity undertones that complement dishes without being overpowering.
3. Spice Islands Za’atar
Spice Islands Za’atar is made from ground sesame seeds, coriander, oregano, toasted marjoram, and sumac. It’s made in the United States but the ingredients are imported from Lebanon. The sesame flavor is milder than some of the other brands which make it easier to use with foods like shrimp or fish. It has a fragrant aroma with notes of citrus and pine.
2. Tazah Foods Zaatar
This Lebanese spice blend is made from 100% wild thyme with sesame, sumac, and salt. The zaatar mix has a lovely aroma that will fill your kitchen as it toasts in the oven. It’s perfect on top of homemade hummus, flatbreads, or pita bread with olive oil. You can also use it to season chicken or fish, add a sprinkle to salads for extra flavor and texture, or mix with water and olive oil as a dip for bread.
1. Salloum Food’s Zaatar
Salloum Food’s Zaatar Mix is a blend of thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds. It contains some salt but you can reduce or omit it if needed. A classic zaatar mix should be prepared with dried oregano, not dried mint; however, some people do add dried mint leaves to the mix.
The Salloum family has been producing zaatar in Lebanon for generations. It’s made by hand using traditional methods and quality ingredients. The result is a fragrant, bold-tasting mix with high nutritional value.
As you can see, there’s a wide range of possibilities for enjoying the health benefits of herbs and spices. You’ll find them in all types of spiced foods including soups, stews, curries, and stir-fries. Many cuisines around the world use these ingredients to create delicate blends that meld together beautifully.
Herbs and spices can be used to enhance the flavor of a meal without adding salt or fat – so they’re an excellent choice for those who want to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Here are some ideas for including herbs and spices in your diet:
Add a pinch of cumin, cardamom, or cinnamon to your morning oatmeal. Add herbs like parsley, chives, or basil to salads. Make spiced dips with mixed seeds and fresh vegetables. Season soups and stews with cumin, cardamom, or coriander.