What you did not know about Za'atar
You can Make it Yourself
It’s not difficult to put together your own homemade za’atar blend — in fact, it’ll provide you with the best flavour and freshness. This spice blend has four key ingredients: thyme, ground sumac, salt, and sesame seeds. Sometimes oregano and/or marjoram are used in place of thyme, or za’atar can be made with a blend of the three herbs. Follow this recipe to get the proportions correct.
What is Sumac?
Sumac is a maroon-coloured powdered spice with a distinctly lemony flavour. If you’ve eaten Middle Eastern cuisines, you’ve likely had sumac, and it’s a key component of za’atar. You may have even seen the sumac plant — it grows wild in North America. If you can’t find sumac at your local grocery store, try looking at a market specializing in Middle Eastern ingredients.
Thyme goes beyond taste
Thyme gives za’atar an herbaceous quality. This herb has been used for medicinal and non-culinary reasons for thousands of years — the ancient Egyptians used it in their embalming process, for example, and Hippocrates mentioned its respiratory benefits in his Hippocratic Corpus. But its use with food and drinks has been around just as long. The Romans used it to flavour beverages and cheese.
These days, the medicinal uses of thyme are usually associated with its oil, which contains 25-54% thymol, one of a naturally occurring set of compounds known as biocides that have antimicrobial properties. Scientists from the University of Manitoba wrote that thymol can reduce bacterial resistance to antibiotics, for example.
It Might Prevent Food Poisoning
Toasted The Sesame Seeds
It's a source of Calcium
Make Other Blends
If you end up with more spices than you need for za’atar, you can use them to make something else. Use extra sumac for fattoush salad or sprinkle it on top of hummus. You can blend up sesame seeds to make your own tahini. And thyme is a key ingredient in Herbs de Provence, which also contains savoury, rosemary, basil, oregano, marjoram, and fennel seed.