Zaatar: the magnificent spice mixture I can literally sprinkle on anything. Dried oregano, ground sumac, sesame seeds and salt; the ingredients are really simple and there is no cooking involved. It is a mild ratio game that you need to adjust to your liking. Many middle eastern countries have different interpretations of the zaatar spice mix. I follow the Lebanese flavors and gather essential information from the official zaatar-family-expert: Nanette, my mother-in-law.
I learned my lesson from the Kebbeh experience and I am actually trying a new approach; I don’t ask for the recipe anymore, just a few questions. I am sharing the zaatar mix I can successfully make while in Miami, without the original wild oregano Nanette harvests from her garden. I hope it helps you recreate the flavors you are craving for if your are an expat or try something new if you like to take your palate on aromatic adventures.
According to Nanette, the zaatar requires three types of white sesame seeds: the unhulled (raw, casing not removed), the raw (hulled, casing removed), and the toasted. Unhulled sesame seeds balance the bitterness of the final spice mix, the raw ones (hulled) are sweeter with a softer texture, the toasted ones are all about nuttiness. The sumac gives it some acid tangy notes and the rest is pure enchantment.
I buy the raw types of sesame seeds in bulk at Whole Foods (USA and Canada) and at Middle Eastern stores, you can also order them online. I prefer to toast the sesame at home but you can safely get them already toasted. If you can’t find the raw sesame (unhulled and hulled) substitute all with toasted sesame seeds.
Zaatar is the perfect extra virgin olive oil companion and together they deliver magic on man’ousheh! Zaatar and Labneh are a match made in heaven and their only legitimate competition would be chocolate and hazelnut.
Did you try avocado toasts with a sprinkle of zaatar on top? Don’t miss the Avocado Verrines recipe,…
Recipe Credits: Rafaella Sargi
Yields approximately 3 cups of zaatar mix
2 cups dried oregano
1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
1/4 cup ground sumac
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons raw sesame seeds (hulled)*
2 Tablespoons unhulled sesame (with their skin)*
Prep all the ingredients.
You will need one big bowl for mixing and a tight lid container for storing.
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and blend well.
Taste for saltiness balance and add a little more salt if you need to.
Transfer the zaatar mix to an airtight container and label. Store in a dark and dry environment to maximize its shelf life.
Zaatar will keep for several months.
While zaatar keep for a long time you will hopefully go through the jar very quickly! And make another batch soon ;)
* If you can’t find the different sesame seeds, just substitute each type with toasted sesame seeds. (recipe total: 3/4 cup toasted seeds)