Thyme means “Za’atar” in Arabic. Marjoram sometimes too. Oh yes, oregano too. Even though these wonderful herbs have their own names, sometimes all of them are called Za’atar. Crazy, right? “Go buy Za’atar.” – Uh… okay. It’s best if you just bring the Za’atar spice blend – everyone in the Levant’s going for it anyway.
My Za’atar mixture consists of toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme, sumac and a little salt. Originally the holy herb hyssop was used instead of thyme. What does hyssop taste like? Iridescent – like thyme with a little oregano with an aftertaste of marjoram – or was it the other way round? It’s all Za’atar anyway! That’s clear, isn’t it? 😉
No, the complex taste of hyssop is joined by notes of sage and rosemary.
Depending on taste, everyone has their own mixture for Za’atar. There are mixtures that contain thyme, oregano AND marjoram. Some even contain cumin (WTF?!?). Not necessary, I think. I prefer the minimalist mixture – sesame, thyme, salt and sumac. Wait a minute… sumac?
What is Sumach?
Sumac is a spice made from the red fruits of the spice sumac. Coarsely ground, the purple powder is sprinkled over salads and used in dips or to make (barbecue) marinades. Sumac smells slightly of vinegar and has a strong acidic-tart taste. All together in a spice pot, Zatar tastes wonderfully nutty due to the roasted sesame seeds, whereby sumac conjures up a beautiful freshness; and thyme – this is the top and heart note of the entire thing.
And what can I take this Za’atar for?
Try Manakish. These are tasty dough patties, spread with a mixture of Za’atar, onions and olive oil and put into the oven for a short time. The smell that comes out of your oven is bewitching!
But you can also simply serve Za’atar next to a good olive oil and fresh bread. Dip the bread first in the oil and then in the delicious spice mixture.
By the way, Za’atar also goes very well with cheese, eggs (boiled or fried – it doesn’t matter), in a wrap, on labneh or in a salad. And how is the spice really written? It doesn’t matter – Google will understand you. 😉
- 3 Tbsp Thyme dried
- 1,5 Tbsp Sesame
- 2,5 tsp Sumac
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- Roast sesame seeds without oil in a pan on medium heat for about 5 minutes while stirring.
- Put half of the sesame with salt, sumac and thyme in a mortar and gently crush it.
- Add remaining sesame seeds and mix.