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.

It's medical

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
Researchers have also looked into thyme’s ability to pay a role in fighting food-borne illnesses. At a Portuguese university, scientists found that they worked as a natural food preservative against several common food bacteria.

Thyme Might Also Be Good For Your Skin
Scientists from Leeds Metropolitan University in England found that thyme could make a more effective treatment for acne than some prescription creams. Their tests with topical treatments showed that thyme had a better success rate than benzoyl peroxide.

 Toasted The Sesame Seeds
Toasting your sesame seeds before mixing them into za’atar enhances their flavour. You can use a frying pan to toast them quickly on the stove, bake them in the oven, or even toast them in the microwave.

It's a source of Calcium

It's A Source Of Calcium
Sesame seeds are one of the world’s oldest cultivated seeds —they’ve been around at least 5,000 years. They were eaten for medicinal properties by the Romans, the Babylonians, and the ancient Egyptians. These seeds are a good source of calcium. A single tablespoon of sesame seeds has nine percent of our RDA for calcium.

There's Even More Benefits To Sesame
There are other reasons to enjoy the sesame seeds used in za’atar. That same one-tablespoon serving has seven percent of your RDA for iron, five percent of your RDA for thiamin, eight percent of your RDA for magnesium, 11 percent of your RDA for manganese, and 18 percent of your RDA for copper.

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. 

Source: HuffingtonPost


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