Za’atar or zaatar is a traditional Middle Eastern seasoning made from a combination of aromatic thyme and other spices - including sumac, sesame and salt. Just a pinch of this green thyme blend can transform meat rubs, roast vegetables and feta salads. Za’atar features in many recipes from Sabrina Ghayour, Ottolenghi and more.
What is za’atar?
Za'atar is the Arabic word for the thyme-like herb used in the spice blend. The transliteration is also spelled zatar and zaatar. As well as being the name of the spice blend, za'atar is also a generic name for a number of related Middle Eastern herbs, including oregano, basil thyme, thyme and savory.
Although this thyme is different to the one we're more familiar with in the UK, the best translation is 'green thyme'. Most za’atar blends include sesame seeds, sumac and salt, but ingredients such as fennel, coriander, aniseed, wheat, and olive or sunflower oil may also be used.
How do I cook with za’atar?
Za’atar is a versatile spice blend – try rubbing into chicken thighs with fresh lemon juice before roasting or stir into cooked beans and chickpeas. You can also infuse extra virgin olive oil with the za’atar – use the resulting herby oil to drizzle over spicy soups or Middle Eastern salads such as tabbouleh or fattoush. Mix the infused oil with more za’atar to make a thick paste and brush over flat breads before baking – this makes a traditional snack called manakish zaatari.
The herby, salty and slightly nutty spice blend also makes a great seasoning for popcorn – shake some za’atar over freshly popped corn while it’s still warm and toss to ensure an even coating. Great for parties or when you fancy a snack that’s a little out of the ordinary!
Ingredients: Thyme, wheat, sesame, salt, sumac, fennel, coriander, sunflower oil, aniseed. Contains wheat gluten and sesame. May contain traces of mustard, tree nuts, celery, egg, fish, milk. Brand may vary depending on availability.
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