what is it and the middle eastern spice blend recipe

Salt, sesame seeds and thyme are the basic ingredients of zaatar, a blend of spices typical of the Middle East. Here’s how to prepare it.

When we speak of zaatar (or za’atar) we are referring, just like curry, not to a single spice but to a spice blend. The basic recipe involves the use of thyme, sesame and salt but, as with all traditional recipes (and we guarantee you that in the Middle East there is nothing more traditional than this), there are many versions of them. Let’s find out together how to prepare this blend of spices and what are its properties.

Zaatar – what is it?

The first traces of Zaatar can even be found in texts dating back to the 1st century AD by Pliny the Elder, where its use as a royal ointment is illustrated. Widespread mainly in the area of ​​what was once the Ottoman Empire (Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Jordan), this spice blend is mainly used for its ability to strengthen body and mind.


This belief is to be found in the fact that it was customary to serve soldiers engaged in the Lebanese civil war loaves of bread flavored with this spice. A simple and poor dish that still today represents the most common breakfast in the Middle East.

The recipe for za’atar

Although originally consumed out of necessity, it zaatar, this is its real name, contains a whole series of properties, conferred on it by the ingredients of which it is composed. The timo in fact it has antiseptic, digestive and tonic properties while the sesame it is a valuable source of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and vitamins

As mentioned, they exist many versions of zaatar, different from family to family. The common starting point is given by salt, thyme and sesame seeds. You can then add oregano, cumin, fennel seeds, savory and marjoram in varying proportions. Among the most famous variants is the one that involves the addition of sumac.

To prepare the zaatar, toast the sesame seeds in a pan for a few minutes, without letting them burn. Then transfer them together with all the other ingredients into a small bowl mixer and grind everything to obtain a powder.

Za’atar is kept in a glass jar, in a dark place, or covered with a layer of extra virgin olive oil. The best way to consume it is together with labnaa particular yogurt popular in the Middle East or together with homemade scones.

And there it is video recipe to prepare it at home:

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