I first came across the spice blend of Za’atar about two years ago. I met this guy from Lebanon, our kids caught the same bus to school so we had plenty of time to talk as we waited. After a few months of casual small talk he invited me to his house for breakfast. I agreed and was thus introduced to za’atar. Breakfast was boiled eggs, slices of cucumber, bread rusks and yogurt topped with za’atar and olive oil and served with olives. I was so enamored with za’atar that he gave me a small jar of it to take home. The flavor of za’atar is distinctive to different regions of the middle east. The common ingredients in Za’atar are ground sumac and toasted sesame seeds. The other flavors vary from lemon, oregano and fennel to the warmth of cumin. I took the ingredients I had in my pantry and created my own version.

What you need:

  • 2 tsp ground sumac 
  • 2 tsp oregano 
  • 5 tsp toasted sesame seeds 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt 
  • 2 tsp fresh basil
  • Zest of 1 lemon

How it’s done

  • Take your sesame seeds and gently toast them in a hot frying pan with no oil
  • With pestle and mortar crush the sesame seeds and set aside 
  • Crush your basil until moist and pliable
  • Add all your ingredients together and with your pestle and mortar blend until you have reached a uniform texture

That’s it! You can experiment by adding other spices and herbs to create your own variation.

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