Za'atar, which is the definition of mixed middle eastern spices in Arabic, is not only a delectable addition to many Middle Eastern dishes, it is also used as a healing herb and has been throughout the Mediterranean from as far back as the 12th century.
In certain parts of the Middle East, tradition suggests that za'atar has brain stimulating properties, helping with depression, refreshing your mood and improving your memory. In fact, Arab mother's always make Za'atar and olive oil sandwiches for their kids right before their exams as a way to stimulate smarter brain cells.
Well, thyme is an antioxidant that benefits brain function and the heart, helping with memory and brain stimulants. Sesame seeds, contain calcium, copper and a type of phystoterol that can help reduce blood cholesterol levels and boost immunity. Lastly, Sumac, an antioxidant as well, is a burgundy red powder and is said to sooth upset stomachs and has a somewhat lemony flavor .
Deliciousness packed with healthy goodness, now that's a super power combination!
It can also be used in many different ways when cooking with it. You can mix it with breads, sprinkle it on top of hummus, use it in teas, grilled chicken, salads, and our favorite; as a herb condiment with olive-oil soaked bread. The tea is said to have strong health benefits, almost as good as green tea.
We found this amazing Za'atar recipe for you to try. If you haven't tried it already, make a small batch with your own fresh ingredients and start by trying it as a marinade.
4 cups Crushed thyme* or za’atar as we call it in the Middle East
1 ½ tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 – 1½ cups Untoasted sesame (depending on how much you love sesame!)
4 Tbsp Sumac
To dry the thyme/ za’atar:
If you do not have a drier/ dehydrator this is the best way to dry thyme:
First, wash the fresh thyme very well. Ensuring that all mud and dust has been cleaned off the leaves.
Next, pat the leaves dry and pick them off the stems.
Lay the leaves in a thin layer on some tea towels and allow to dry for several days.
Once the leaves shrivel up and crinkle they are ready to be transformed into delicious za’atar.
To make the za’atar mix:
In a food processor, place the thyme leaves and pulse until they turn into a light green power.
Place the crushed thyme into a bowl and add the salt. Mix well.
Next, slowly add the olive oil and rub into the thyme, making sure it blends with the entire mixture. This step allows the salt and thyme to marry while the olive oil deepens the flavor of the thyme and gives it its distinctive color.
Next, toast the sesame until golden brown and add to the za’atar mix while it is still hot. This allows the nutty oil extracts of the sesame to bind with the za’atar. Finally, add the sumac and mix well.
Place the za’atar in airtight jars. If you plan to make a lot of za’atar you can refrigerate the jars until ready to use.
Za’atar can usually last for several months, although it always runs out a few weeks later in my household and a new batch is made.
She has also posted this za'atar recipe as a video tutorial which we think you will love!
How did your Za'atar come out, and what did you use it with? Leave us your comment below!