Tuesday, February 16, 2016

MIDDLE EASTERN: Chicken za'atar and how to make the mideastern spice mix


is an mideastern spice mix.  It is pronounced zat ahr' (with emphasis on second syllable).

Link to audio pronunciation of za'atar by natives: 



One site says:  A popular Middle Eastern spice mixture that often includes: sumac, thyme, toasted sesame seeds, marjoram, oregano, and salt. There are many spelling variations for the spice mixture, including zaatar, za'tar, zatar, zatr, zattr, zahatar, zaktar, and satar. 

This first recipe link calls for SUMAC.  I have over 300 spices and I don't have sumac in my pantries.  If you have it try this one!!  (You can order it through Amazon)

Another site using Sumac however this one has Sstep by step photos


If I am out of sumac I sometimes mix ground black pepper with lemon zest and you get a similar flavor. it is peppery and lemony sometimes I add just a dash of paprika to the mix also.

i know the recipe already contains lemon, but unfortunately the best option is grated lemon zest. since sumac has a tart, somewhat lemony flavor, it's really the closest you'll get in terms of substitution.

I like flatbread (naan) brushed with EVOO and sprinkled with Za'atar
 and then baked on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven
 for 10 min approximately depending upon your oven. 


From a blogger:  Za'atar without Sumac

I wasn't in the mood for a trip to the hospital with a new food allergy, so I made za’atar without sumac. I have no idea if Danny would be allergic, but given his record with everything else, I decided to skip it.

This is really easy to do if you have a spice grinder. I have a two dollar, used electric coffee mill from the Goodwill. It works great. If you grind a lot of really stinky spices like fenugreek, you might consider having dedicated grinders for those. The used ones really are cheap enough to build a collection (I'm up to four).

You Will Need:

Equal parts of toasted sesame seeds, thyme, oregano, and marjoram. Coarse salt to taste. Grind together until fragrant (and oh, believe me, it will be). Store in a jar.

I used mine for dipping with pita and olive oil, but you can rub it on lamb, or chicken, and probably a million other things.

How to Make a Homemade Substitute for Za'atar

The Middle-Eastern spice blend called Za'atar is an important ingredient in the Tomato, Chickpea and Feta recipe found in Fine Cooking #112. 

There are many styles of za’atar (any of which will work in this recipe), but all share the common ingredients of sesame seeds, ground sumac, and dried za’atar (an herb with a savory-thyme-oregano flavor). You can buy za’atar blends in Middle-Eastern markets, but you can also make it at home. In the blend shown above, thyme and oregano or marjoram stand in for the za’atar herb, which is rarely available in the United States.

To make about 1/2 cup of za’atar, put 3 Tbs. dried thyme, 1 Tbs. lightly toasted sesame seeds, 1 Tbs. ground sumac, 1/2 tsp. dried oregano or marjoram, and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt in a spice grinder. Pulse a few times to mix and break up some of the seeds—there should still be many whole seeds visible. Store in a cool, dark place for up to six months.
If sumac is unavailable, substitute 2 Tbs. dried lemon peel.

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