The magic of Za'atar


Za'atar is a spice mixture that has been a popular seasoning in Middle Eastern cuisine for centuries. This versatile blend of dried thyme, oregano, sumac and sesame seeds gives dishes a distinctive flavor and aroma that is hard to resist. But there's more to Za'atar than just its taste – it also has a rich history and cultural significance in the Arab world. We take you through the journey of Za'atar spices, from its ingredients and culinary uses to its symbolism in culture and history. So, if you want to learn more about this fascinating herbal blend, keep reading!

History of Za'atar

The history of Za'atar dates back thousands of years, to the time of the ancient Egyptians. It is said that they used thyme to mask the smell of the dead during mummification. The Phoenicians, known for their trade and long travels, then spread the use of thyme and other herbs throughout the Mediterranean.

The word “Za'atar” itself is derived from the Arabic word for thyme, “za'atar rumi”. This refers to the original Roman thyme used in the region and later blended with other herbs to create the modern Za'atar blend. Za'atar was used in some parts of the Middle East as a medicinal plant and as a remedy for various diseases, such as colds and coughs. Children are sometimes encouraged to eat the herbal mixture for breakfast, as this is said to have a positive effect on alertness and therefore performance at school.

Although Za'atar has declined slightly in popularity over the years, it still holds a special place in the hearts of the people of the region. It is a symbol of tradition and culture, and is still widely used in Middle Eastern cuisine.


Ingredients of Za'atar

If you have ever enjoyed the delicious taste of Za'atar, you know that the spice mixture consists of a combination of different tasty ingredients. The main ingredients of Za'atar spices are thyme, oregano, sumac and sesame seeds.

  • Thyme is a herb that naturally occurs in the Mediterranean region and is known for its spicy and slightly bitter taste. Thyme is an important ingredient in Za'atar spices because it gives a distinctive flavor to the mixture and is also known for its medicinal properties.
  • Oregano is another important ingredient of Za'atar herbs. It has a spicy and slightly sweet taste and is often used in Italian cuisine. Oregano is also high in antioxidants and has antiviral and antifungal properties.
  • Sumac is a spice common in Middle Eastern cuisine that has a distinctive sour taste. It is made from ground sumac berries and is an important ingredient in Za'atar spices because it gives a unique flavor to the mixture.
  • Sesame seeds are also often added to Za'atar spices. These small seeds have a nutty taste and contain many healthy nutrients, such as protein, fiber and essential fatty acids.

Together, these ingredients create a delicious mixture that's perfect for adding to dishes like toast, salads, stews, and even hummus! Whether you're a fan of savory or sweet flavors, Za'atar is a versatile seasoning that suits just about any flavor preference.


Uses of Za'atar in Arabic cuisine

Za'atar is indispensable in Arabic cuisine. It is used as a seasoning for bread, meat, vegetables and salads and as a dip with olive oil. The herb has a unique taste characterized by its spicy and spicy aroma, making it an indispensable part of many Arabic dishes. It can be used in countless ways to add unique flavor and aroma to dishes. Here are some delicious ways to use Za'atar spices in cooking:

As a seasoning for bread

One of the most popular ways to use Za'atar is as a topping for freshly baked bread. Mix some Za'atar with olive oil and spread it over warm bread. The result is a tasty, crispy crust with a spicy and nutty taste. It is the perfect addition to a breakfast or brunch.

With meat dishes

Za'atar gives a great flavor to meat dishes, especially chicken and lamb. You can use the spice mixture as a marinade for the meat or as a topping after it has been grilled or fried. It adds a wonderful aroma and spicy taste to the meat. Looking for extra flavor for your meat dishes? Spread the rub with Za'atar over your meat and place it in a vacuum bag. This allows the flavors and aromas to penetrate the meat and you can enjoy a delicious meal.

With vegetables and salads

Za'atar is also a great seasoning for vegetables and salads. It can be sprinkled over roasted vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and carrots, giving them an extra dimension of flavor. Za'atar herbs can also be used as a dressing for salads. Mix it with some olive oil and lemon juice for a tasty and healthy dressing.

As a dip with olive oil

Another tasty way to use Za'atar herbs is as a dip. Mix it with olive oil and use it as a dip for fresh bread, raw vegetables or falafel. It is a healthy and tasty snack that you can easily make yourself.

Za'atar is a delicious and healthy way to season your dishes and add something extra to your meals.


Za'atar in the modern cuisine and street food scene

Za'atar has also found its way into the modern cuisine and street food scene in recent years. The spice has become increasingly popular outside the Middle East and is now used in many other cuisines around the world.

In modern cuisine, Za'atar spices are often used to give a Middle Eastern twist to classic dishes. It is added to hummus, grilled vegetables, pizzas and even cocktails. The spicy and spicy taste of Za'atar goes well with many ingredients and gives dishes a special taste.

In addition, Za'atar is also popular in the street food scene. It is often used as a topping for falafel, shawarma and other Middle Eastern snacks. For example, za'atar fries are a popular snack in many parts of the world.

Za'atar herbs are also popular in the healthy eating trend. It is often used as a healthy alternative to salt and other spice mixes. Za'atar contains many healthy nutrients, such as vitamin C, iron and antioxidants.

So, za'atar is not only a herb used in Middle Eastern cuisine, but has also found its way into the modern kitchen and street food scene. The spicy and spicy taste of Za'atar makes it a versatile herb that lends itself well to many dishes.

The culinary uses of Za'atar in the rest of the world

Although Za'atar is originally a spice commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine, more and more chefs and culinary experts are experimenting with Za'atar and using it in new and surprising dishes.

In the United States, Za'atar is often used as a topping for bagels and other sandwiches. It is also added to popcorn and as a seasoning for fries. In France and Spain it is often used as a seasoning for olive oil and vinegar. In Italy, Za'atar is added to pizzas and focaccia sandwiches. In India it is added to various chutneys and sauces.

In Australia and New Zealand, Za'atar is very popular as a seasoning for grilled meat and fish. It is also often added to salads and as a topping for avocado toast. In South Africa it is used as a topping for biltong (dried meat) and droëwors (dried sausage).

In short, Za'atar has made a real world trip and left her mark in many different parts of the world. Today it is used in many different dishes. From sandwiches to pizzas and from meat to salads, Za'atar is a versatile herb that lends itself well to all kinds of culinary applications.

Reading next


Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.