Za’atar Spice Mix

I mentioned in another post that I had picked a few sumac berries on the side of the road. Sumac has a sour flavor, and the ground berries are a major component of  Za’atar, a spice mix popular in Middle Eastern cuisine.

sumac


To use the dried berries I first removed them from the stems by rubbing with my fingers. A lot of stem debris came off with the stripped berries. I used a colander to remove the chaff.

sumac


A sumac berry consists of a very hard seed which has a fuzzy red coating. The red coating is the part used. I used a small food processor to separate it from the seed. The food chopper was incapable of grinding the hard seeds completely so I let it run for a couple of minutes to get as much of the coating off as possible.

sumac

sumac


A sieve came in handy to separate the red powder from the seeds.

sumac

sumac (6).jpg


The sumac was now ready for culinary use to add a sour flavor to dishes. The seeds can be used to make a tasty lemony tea.

sumac

sumac


Today I made a version of za’atar to suit my taste. Initially I used equal amounts of all the ingredients except for the salt.

I started by toasting black sesame seeds and cumin seeds in a dry pan before coarsely grinding them with a little sea salt using a mortar and pestle. In a spice grinder I finely ground some of the roasted and coarsely ground sesame seeds and cumin along with equal parts thyme, marjoram, oregano, sumac and a little sea salt.

za'atar


To test this spice mixture I mixed some with a little olive oil and brushed it on a sweet potato before baking. It was good,  but I thought it needed much more tartness and more salt.

za'atar


I added green mango powder (amchur), powdered pomegranate (anardana) and more sumac, all of which have a tart flavor. I also added black salt in increments until the flavor was right.

za'atar


I put some of the Za’atar spice mixture in a small jar to take its place with the other spices, and the rest went into the freezer to stay fresh for future use.

Za'atar


 


7 thoughts on “Za’atar Spice Mix

    1. Black salt is a mineral salt which is mined in the Himalayas of Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The sulphur content gives it the smell and flavor of boiled eggs. In rock form it has a dark purplish color and is pink when it is ground to a fine powder, however it is not the same as pink Himalayan salt, which I also use frequently.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess I’m a bit of purist, as for me the dried hyssop is the real flavor of the mix, but you’re right, there are so many variations by now that they all should be acceptable.
        I actually like the idea of adding mango and pomegranate powder. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Nothing wrong with being a purist. It is true that “messing with” the components of a traditional or regional dish renders it no longer authentic. Names have meaning and value, name and reputation being one and the same. So it makes sense to be protective of a name, especially when tied to region and tradition. Names of wines and cheeses are fiercely guarded, and rightly so. Nothing wrong with adaptations and innovations but they should be labeled as such.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s