Alright, everyone. Get out your mortar and pestle.* We are going to make za’atar!
Za’atar literally translates to mean “wild thyme” in Arabic. Much like curry blends vary across geography, za’atar blends vary throughout the Middle East. This ancient spice combination typically consists of thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac.
Sumac is the dried, ground drupes (berries) of a shrub prevalent throughout parts of Africa and Asia. This crimson spice has a tangy, lemony zip to it.
At first I used thyme straight from the garden. The green leaves were so very pretty when fresh and whole, but I realized the za’atar would benefit from drying them, as the herbs oil will intensify.
For the most flavorful za’atar, toast the cumin, coriander, and sesame seeds until fragrant. Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Toast the seeds for 2-3 minutes. As soon as the seeds turn a shade or two darker, cool them and then crush them.
Za’atar is one of those blends that has infinite potential. It’s pungency accentuates the flavor of most anything you sprinkle it on—
- home-grown tomatoes
- grilled vegetables
- meats or fish
- oven-roasted chickpeas, hummus, or lentils
Or… drizzle your bread with olive oil and sprinkle with za’atar before popping into the oven. Pure magic in your mouth.
Below I share with you my “house blend” of za’atar. Concoct your own house blend by adjusting this recipe to your liking.
By the way, sparkling wine is a lovely accompaniment to this aromatic spice blend.
P.S. I used my za’atar in this recipe. It was fantastic!
I’d love to hear what magic you make with your za’atar. Take a photo and tag #nakedepicurean on Instagram.
Za’atar Spice Blend
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon or more aleppo chili flakes
Toast. Grind. Sprinkle. Enjoy.
*No mortar and pestle? No worries. You can place the seeds in a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin or a heavy sauté pan, or you can grind them in a coffee grinder. **
**To clean your coffee grinder, grind ¼ cup rice until it looks like dust.