A Guide To Cooking With Za’atar: The Tangy and Fragrant Herb And Spice Blend
Whether you’ve seen za’atar crop up in recipe ingredients lists and need to know more, or just curious to learn about traditional spice blends, we’ve got your back– everything you need to know from its rich and flavourful history right up to making your own how to cook with it.
This bright, earthy, herby, nutty, fragrant and tangy blend has such a range and depth to its flavours, textures and aromas that justice wouldn’t be served if we were to describe it with any fewer words.
What is za’atar?
Za’atar is a dried herb and spice blend that’s made from some of the best flavours, all native to the Middle East: there will be slight variations on (top secret) additional ingredients and proportions depending on where you are and who has made it for you. However, you’ll usually find a combination of dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds and plenty of sumac! After these staples, you might just come across additional spices like cumin and coriander, dried orange zest or sometimes dill. All of these variants are what make the blends unique in every home, market stall and restaurant.
Photo credits: Feasting At Home
Any keen seasoning-connoisseurs reading might already know that za’atar used to contain a herb by the same name, but no longer as the plant is now a protected species. Za’atar is deeply rooted in much Middle Eastern cooking, from Palestinian and Egyptian cuisines to historical Armenian and Persian recipes – it appears across oceans and vast distances of land.
How to make your own za’atar
Here are a couple of our favourite recipes to get you started, both with their own individualities:
- This recipe from Feasting At Home is inspired by the writer’s Egyptian father’s perfected blend and sits on the fiery end the za’atar spectrum with cumin and Aleppo chilli flakes
- Here is a paired back recipe from the blog, My Jewish Learning that will let the key four ingredients sing
Photo credits: My Jewish Learning
Vegan recipes to champion your za’atar
Now you’ve got your za’atar, what next? Here are some delicious plant-based recipes to make with za’atar:
- Make our rainbow falafel mezze bowl and let your za’atar loose with spoonfuls of beetroot houmous and juicy roasted vegetables
- We love Rabbit and Wolves’ recipe for vegan za’atar tofu and herby plant-yoghurt flatbreads
- Why not make this recipe for creamy vegan labneh with za’atar from Veg & Fred?
- This za’atar pasta salad recipe from The Curious Chickpea is zingy, fresh and make the perfect lunch
By Fabian Jackson
Fabian is one of our lovely Content Marketing Assistants who loves writing almost as much as he loves coffee, old episodes of Escape to the Country (no judgement here), and cooking up a storm in his kitchen.