A popular Middle Eastern spice that is actually a mix of herb and several spices, is easy to make at home, used on just about anything.
There is nothing resemble the smell of my country, Palestine. The green plain land wears its most beautiful dresses every season. The brave mountains and lofty hills all jeweled with olive and pomegranate trees, figs of all kinds. The smell of the wild, wafts through the sun warmed air with aroma of thyme and oregano that fills the villages with fragrances of wild flowers and herbs from sage to chamomile.
Za’tar is the arabic name for the crushed dried oregano and thyme leaves mixed with spices, also for the oregano plant as well. In Middle East, it is like a staple ingredient, a pantry essential, should be kept handy at all the time.
An oregano shrub in my backyard.
Oregano and thyme are wild plants, found mostly in mountinous hills all through the Middle East and Mediterranean region, suitable best in cold areas. You can also plant it in your house but it’s less fragrance than the wild.
Fresh or dried, oregano is dearly beloved plant in Middle East. It’s known for increasing mental acuity. The fresh leaves are washed first then stripped out of their woody stalks and used in fresh salads, and many sauces and soups, it also makes the most delicious bread.
Oregano dries very well, retaining much of it’s flavor for several months, after stipping the leaves, spread in a clean towel in a dry shadowy place until it’s completely dry.
To make the za’tar mix, the dried leaves crushed and ground in local herb shops, they have large mills that accommodate large quantities. At home, you can use a coffee grinder or food processor.
Duqa is the other name of the spice seasoning blend that used with the oregano and thyme to make the za’tar mix. It’s blend of caraway, dill, coriander, cumin, anise, sumac, and sesame seeds. Basically there’s no fixed recipe for the za’tar mix, the combination and quantities of spices vary from one home to another, it depends on personal preference. Some use oregano and thyme, others use only oregano.
Sumac is an important ingredient in the za’tar mix, which is used to season other food too. As a flavorant ingredient, it gives bread, olives, and yogurt an exquisite tangy taste. It adds the lemony taste to the za’tar mix.
Another important ingredient in making the za’tar spice mix is the sesame seeds, which is first picked from stones and small sticks, then toasted in the oven until it pop, you can also use a griddle pan to toast the sesame at range top.
Za’tar is used in hot and cold dishes. As a simple middle eastern breakfast, usually eaten with some toasted fresh baked pita bread, which is dipped in olive oil first then in za’tar, and perfect with a hot tea, it’s my best favorite. Also, za’tar may used in many dishes from fried halloumi cheese, to za’tar bread manaqeesh, or za’tar coated yogurt balls or may be as a season for many chicken and meat dishes, and many other savory dishes. As a delicious healthy snack try to make these incredibly delicious and addictive pita chips.
Za’tar can be found mixed and ready to use in almost all middle eastern markets, but it’s so easy and most be-referable to make it at home.
Za’tar Spice Mix
1 pound (16 oz) oregano leaves, washed, dried, and ground (this will yield about 1 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoon sumac seeds, ground
1 tablespoon caraway seed, ground
1/2 tablespoon dill seed, ground
1/2 tablespoon anise seed, ground
2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds, ground
1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground
1/3 cup sesame seeds, picked and toasted
In a large bowl, add the ground oregano. Working with your hands, add the olive oil slowly, and massage the oregano, this will moist the dried oregano and stops it from fluffing and skittering all around the place.
Set a fine mesh sieve over the bowl, and pass the ground sumac, in case there’s still some seed pits.
Add the rest of spices and salt.
Spread the sesame seed in an oven sheet, and place it in the oven at 400 f, toast, stirring constantly, until the seeds begin to pop and crackle like a popcorn. Watch carefully, remove from the oven, add it while it’s warm to the za’ar mix.
Remember, In za’tar blend, there’s no specific measurement for the ingredient, so feel free to adjust the quantities to accommodate your tasting preferances.
Mix all together, set a side to cool completely before you pack into storage jars. Store in air tight jars up to Year.
Thin pita bread
Zatar spice mix
Split the pita bread into two round sheets, stack it over each other. Brush or spray with olive oil. Spread the zatar mix on each pita sheet. Cut into triangles. Spread in an oven sheet, be careful not to crowd, bake at 300 f for 10 min, watch carefully.
Set in large bowl, let cool.
خلطة الزعتر على طريقة والدتي
للعيار حاولت ان اضع عيار لكميات صغيره
ولكن على طريقة الوالده كل ١٠ كيلو زعتر ورق منشف تعطينا ١ كيلو مطحون
لعمل ١/٢ كيلو زعتر ورق منشف يعطينا حوالي ١ ١/٢ كوب مطحون يلزم الاتي
١ م ك زيت زيتون
٣ م ك سماق
١ م ك كراويه مطحون
١/٢ م ك عين جراده مطحون
١/٢ م ك يانسون مطحون
٢ م ك سمسم محمص مطحون
١ م ص ملح
١/٢ م ك كمون مطحون
١/٢ م ك كزبره مطحون
١/٣ كوب سمسم محمص ساخن
نخلط جميع المقادير مع بعض
نتركها تبرد تماما وتعبا بمرتبانات وتخزن
لعمل شبس الزعتر
نحتاج خبز رقيق جدا
يدهن او يرش بزيت الزيتون
يدخل فرن محمى مسبقا على ٣٠٠ ف لمدة ١٠ دقائق