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Za’atar Spice Mix

Za’atar (also spelled zatar) has two meanings in Arabic:  it is the Arabic word for the herb thyme, and it is also the word for a thyme spice mixture.  Za’atar usually contains ground thyme, ground sumac, toasted sesame seeds and salt.  Its zesty flavor pairs very well with the creamy-tart cheese, and with olives, olive oil and bread.  The most popular za’atar dish is mana’ish, a fragrant flat bread spread with a mixture of olive oil and za’atar. 

One of the main ingredients in za’atar is the ground spice
60 ml fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stems (or 30 ml dried thyme)
10 ml ground sumac
2.5 ml fine sea salt, or more to taste
15 ml sesame seeds, toasted

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC.
  2. Place the thyme leaves on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until dry – about 10 minutes.  Set it aside to cool.
  3. Use a pestle and mortar to grind the thyme leave finely.  Add the sumac and salt and grind with the thyme.
  4. Stir in the sesame seeds, taste, and adjust to your liking.
  5. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with Home-made Pita Bread (photo below) and Home-made Minted Labneh.

– The recipe can easily be doubled.
– Leftover za’atar keeps best in the fridge or freezer.