Two months ago, we imported our first shipment of the pure za’atar (zahtar) herb from Israel, and we just can’t say enough great things about this “king of herbs”. For years we have been planning on how we would blend za’atar in the traditional way, and now we have finally succeeded.
Very often we were asked, “what is za’atar”? Is it a spice blend, a wild herb, a particular kind of dip or condiment? Za’atar is both a herb and a spice blend of ground sumac and toasted sesame seeds. It is a relative of the oregano family and native to the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions. The blends vary from region to region, but, generally, the flavor is herbal and nutty. Both herb and spice blend are very popular throughout the Middle East and the recipes for such prized mixtures were highly guarded secrets that weren’t even shared with family and relatives.
At Whole Spice, our za’atar blend is made with the pure zathar herb, ground sumac, toasted sesame seeds, sea salt and a touch of olive oil – the zesty taste is unbelievably rich? I just love the bitterness of the za’atar herb and the pungency of sumac with the toasted sesame seeds that gives it a subtle nutty taste. There is no similar spice blend with this flavor – I can guarantee it!
Traditionally, all over the Middle East, zathar blend is served with bread, olive oil, cheese and fresh vegetables. However, other regions use it in a slightly different way — for example, in the Israeli Druze community they prepare their large, flat bread with Labane cheese and the za’atar blend spread over it. And in other areas, they make a traditional za’atar bread baked in a stone oven.
Be creative and add the za’atar blend to spinach turnovers and pita pizza, both making great dishes for lunch and a snack. For a savory supper, the mixture can be used as a dry rub for fish or chicken, or added to marinades for grilled or roasted vegetables. Za’atar can even go festive in a party dip.
The za’atar herb is rarely exported, and we feel so blessed to have been able to receive this exotic herb from Israel and offer it to our customers, either in spice blends that will keep forever in your pantry or spice cabinet, as well as provide some exciting recipes that will make you into culinary geniuses. Check out our za’atar herb now at wholespice.com.
Right now, I feel like having a sumptuous snack of my favorite bread with our za’atar seasoning and olive oil. I dare you to try this – you’ll be hooked!