What is za’atar? How to pronounce it? What does it taste like? All answered on this Ultimate Guide + How To Make Za’atar Recipe!
Could you imagine eating a spoonful of spices?
I couldn’t imagine anything worse. That is until I tasted Za’atar. My partner walked into the kitchen just as I had lifted a tablespoon to my lips. Unapologetically, I opened my mouth and devoured the spices completely. It was unlike anything I had ever tasted before.
Za’atar is a powerhouse of flavour that explodes in your mouth like fireworks. It adds to the simplest of dish an element of complexity and elegance. A unique combination of tart astringency and earthiness. A taste I never thought I would be drawn to.
In the last 12 months, I’ve developed an interest in the Middle East. The history, culture and of course, its food. I’m constantly quizzing my Persian colleagues on recipes to try at home, local grocers and specific ingredients I should add to my (already overflowing) pantry. While exploring my local middle eastern grocery, I observed each packet and shelve with the utmost of detail. While uncovering the ingredients like an uncharted atlas, each item I discovered had a story begging to be shared. Pomegranate molasses, rose water, obscure beans, spices and candy were abundant. I was fearful. Would I miss something that I simply could not live without?
Amongst the jars sprawled with a gorgeous script, I saw a specific spice blend that resurfaced time and time again. Za’atar. It was like a gem that had been hiding coyly from me for years. The scent is fragrant like perfume and it pairs beautifully with almost everything. It morphs everything it touches into something moreish and addictive.
Although initially, I sprinkled it across the salad featured as part of my weekly meal plan. I can’t wait to share this unique seasoning with you that will completely change the way you view spices and cooking. Although you can purchase premade blends at grocers, the homemade version is by far more delicious. And with a blend that tasks less than 5-minutes to prepare, you really don’t have anything to lose.
Once you taste it, you will understand why I have been consuming it by the mouthful. I hope you love it as much as I do. 😉
Za’atar The Ultimate Guide:
A spice blend from the Middle East, Za’atar is pronounced as “za-ah-tar”.
Za’atar is a powerhouse of flavour that explodes in your mouth like fireworks. The seasoning adds to the most simplest of dish an element of complexity and elegance.
Za’atar offers a unique flavour combination of tart astringency, herbal earthiness and citrus characters. Because of the tart citrus notes, it is the perfect contrast for oily and rich foods like goat’s cheese, labne, avocado, hummus or extra virgin olive oil.
Traced back to biblical times, the exact country of origin for Za’atar is still unknown. Because of this, depending on the region, the exact ingredients used to prepare the seasoning varies. This is also a benefit because you can alter the recipe to try various different flavours and combinations.
Typically, Za’atar is created with herbs such oregano or thyme, toasted sesame seeds, salt and sumac.
It’s so simple to make your own version of this seasoning I don’t understand why people buy the store-bought version. From stove-top to table, you can quickly whip this recipe up in under 5-minutes!
A homemade Za’atar recipe typically includes fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano or marjoram, lightly toasted sesame seeds and spices such as sumac, coriander or cumin. That’s it.
My recent blog post outlines simple step-by-step instructions and quantities! Mix it up with the spices you have available to make the seasoning your own!
When I first learned about this seasoning, I asked myself “What is Za’atar used for?” Luckily for me, I discovered that the spice blend is actually really easy to incorporate into your daily meals. Za’atar is the perfect accompaniment to give a “zing” to any recipe!
Some of my favourite uses for Za’atar include:
* Hummus with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of za’atar;
* Crispy toasted chickpeas with za’atar seasoning;
* Toast with goat’s cheese served with sprinkled za’atar;
* Aubergine steaks cooked in a za’atar crust;
* Smashed avocado on toast with poached eggs & za’atar;
* Middle eastern salad with couscous and za’atar.
Due to the unique flavours it’s difficult to substitute this favourable spice blend. To pair similar earthy characters, almond dukkah could be used instead and would be just as delicious.
Alternatively, you can make your own by ingredients you have at home, such as herbs (thyme, oregano or marjoram), sumac or lemon zest, salt, and spices (cumin, salt or coriander).
According to a receipt article on the Monash Low FODMAP blog, majority of the herbs and spices used to make Za’atar are not only gluten free and vegan, but also Low FODMAP. This makes it the perfect seasoning blend to spice up your Low FODMAP meals!
For blends purchased in supermarkets or for other separate spice recipes, ensure you review the ingredient list to ensure it’s aligned with your dietary requirement.
To be on the safe side, my recent recipe for Za’atar is Low FODMAP and contains 4 simple ingredients: Sumac, thyme, sesame seeds and sea salt.
How To Make Za’atar
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp thyme leaves
- 2 tsp ground sumac
- 1 tsp ground cumin optional
- ½ tsp course sea salt
- Over a medium heat in a small frying pan, toast the sesame seeds for approximately 5 minutes
- While the sesame seeds are toasting, mince the thyme leaves.
- Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl or jar and sprinkle on your favourite recipes.
Equipment: This recipe may contain links to products and equipment that I use and love myself. The links may contain affiliate links, meaning if you click the link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.
Nutrition: The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and does not include any other condiments or garnishes. Although Curated Life Studio attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered as estimates and do not replace or substitute a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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Hey There, I’m Kylie. My passion is plant-based recipes and I want to help you create something gorgeous!
I believe in taking a slow approach to food – to eat locally, seasonally and consciously.
When I’m not taking photos, you can find me wandering the coastal paths of South-East Australia.