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All about Zaatar

Leena Spices

What is Zaatar?

Zaatar is famous as a spice blend. It is a tasty spice mix used in a variety of Middle Eastern recipes. The culinary uses of Zaatar spice vary with locations. Zaatar is also a useful culinary herb. As an herb, it comes from the mint family. Zaatar alone most properly applies to "Origanum syriacum," used in Levantine cuisine. Both the spice mixture and the herb are popular throughout the Mediterranean region of the Middle East. 

What is Zaatar spice mix generally made of?

Zaatar Spice is initially made up of oregano, marjoram, thyme and roasted earthy spices like cumin, sesame seeds, coriander, and sumac. Sumac imparts a lovely, unexpected tanginess to the zaatar, which we believe is necessary for making the best zaatar.

What are the other names for zaatar?

The word Zaatar can also be written as Za’atar, Zaatar, Sa’tar, and Sarsar. It is pronounced as Zach-tar. The other common and ethnic names of zaatar are "Persian zaatar," "zaatar franji" (European hyssop), and "zaatar Rumi" (Roman hyssop). 

Is zaatar the same as Thyme, Oregano, or Hyssop? 

The herb plant zaatar is also referred to as Oregano and Thyme sometimes. People also believed it to be the same as the biblical hyssop. The reasons are: 

  • Zaatar and Wild Thyme:

Zaatar is translated from Arabic to English as Wild Thyme because the Arabic word za'atar (or sa'tar) possibly comes from the Latin Satureia. Satureja capitata, aka Thymus capitatus, is a species of wild thyme found throughout the Levant and Mediterranean Middle East hills. Therefore, people refer to Zaatar herb as wild thyme. 

Fact: Since the 1940s, in North America, Syrian, Palestinian, and Lebanese immigrants cultivate a thyme plant named Thymbra spicata (native to Greece and Palestine/Israel) for use in their zaatar spice preparations.  

  • Zaatar and Syrian Oregano:

People also name zaatar as the Middle-Eastern or Syrian oregano because another zaatar identified as "wild za'atar" aka za'atar Barri (Arabic) is Origanum vulgare, commonly known as European oregano, or just as oregano. 

Fact: This species of zaatar is also widespread in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Israel. Over there, people use it to make one local variety of the zaatar spice mixture. 

  • Zaatar and Hyssop: 

Bible hyssop aka Origanum syriacum (also known as Arabic oregano and wild marjoram) and Origanum majorana are two Latin names given to the Arabic herb zaatar. As oregano and marjoram are close relatives in the Lamiaceae family, it's not surprising that they can be used interchangeably.

How is zaatar prepared as a condiment, and what are its variations?

As mentioned above, zaatar is a condiment made from dry ground thyme, oregano, marjoram, or these herbs combined with toasted sesame seeds and salt. However, people also add other spices, such as sumac, in it. Roasted flour is also used in specific commercial variants.

Homemakers throughout the Fertile Crescent, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula made their own zaatar recipes.

Zaatar mix usage is sometimes associated with Moroccan households with Andalusian heritage. Over there, spice mixture recipes were kept secret and not even shared within families.

Savory, cumin, coriander, and fennel seed may be added to some varieties. A Palestinian variation of zaatar contains caraway seeds. In contrast, a Lebanese variety contains sumac berries, which gives the zaatar spice mix a distinctive dark red color. Hence, zaatar is also known as red zaatar. 

What are the culinary uses of Zaatar Spice Blend?

Zaatar is a versatile spice mix and thus complements many savory meals. People, who have experienced the unique flavor of zaatar in cooking and eating, use it in their food in many ways.

It is commonly eaten with bread, which is dipped in olive oil and then za'atar spice. When mixed with olive oil, the spread is known as za'atar-wu-zayt or Zeit ou za'atar. 

When people spread za'atar-wu-zayt on a dough base and bake it as bread, they produce manakeesh bi zaatar, a famous dish around the Middle East. 

In the Middle East's Mediterranean region, ka'ak (a soft sesame seed bread) is sold by street vendors and bakeries with zaatar dip sauce or a zaatar filling.

Alternatively, Zaatar spice also works best as a seasoning. Sprinkle it over salad, meat, rice, vegetables, or hummus for a bold, zesty taste. 

Most commonly in Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and other places in the Arab world, zaatar is eaten with labneh ( tangy, creamy cheese, made from drained yogurt), olive oil, and bread for breakfast.

People at other places also use it to make a yogurt-zaatar dip sauce that goes well with grilled lamb and fried vegetables. 

The Lebanese specialty shanklish, dry-cured labneh balls can be rolled in zaatar to form its outer coating.

As a traditional beverage in Oman, people steep zaatar in boiling water to make herbal tea.

Which food does zaatar goes well with? 

As a seasoning, or dip sauce zaatar will taste better with the following vegetables and food:

  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Dairy: Feta, goat cheese, labneh, and yogurt
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Fresh leafy herbs (parsley, mint, and cilantro)
  • Lemon or lime
  • Pistachios
  • Pita bread
  • Potatoes
  • Olive oil and olives
  • Quinoa and rice
  • Tomato

Why is zaatar popular as "food for health"?

Zaatar, like Baharat (an Egyptian spice blend of ground cinnamon, cloves, and allspice or rosebuds) and other traditional Arab spice blends, is vital in antioxidants.

Vitamins A, C, E, and K are all present in the typical zaatar blend. Sumac (a dried berry with a lemony flavor) is abundant in flavonoids, vitamin C, and omega 3 fatty acids and has excellent antioxidant capabilities. Sesame seeds are considered one of the healthiest foods due to their high concentration of health-promoting elements, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins.

Many vital minerals, including copper, magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc, are abundant in sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are an efficient source of dietary fiber and high-quality protein. They're also high in omega-6 fatty acids as well as flavonoid phenolic antioxidants.

What are the other health benefits of zaatar?

Zaatar is abundant in memory and mood-improving nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, vitamins, and essential oils. Because of its antioxidant and therapeutic characteristics, zaatar is also known as "brain food."

Zaatar herb properties have significant health-enhancing benefits since sumac, thyme, and oregano are abundant in flavonoids. These organic compounds are vital dietary sources of antioxidants that can protect cells from injury.

Let's discuss the numerous powerful health benefits of zaatar in detail, 

  • Zaatar clears the respiratory tract.

Zaatar helps to clear the respiratory tract since it contains thyme, which is well known for its ability to clear the respiratory tract. Thyme has expectorant characteristics, especially when brewed, which helps you cough up mucus. If you have an issue with breathing, you can have zaatar to improve your immune system.

  • Zaatar aids blood circulation.

Zaatar helps with blood circulation because it includes iron, which is necessary for synthesizing hemoglobin, which transports red blood cells throughout the body and to other organs. Thus due to a lot of iron, zaatar aids in the promotion of oxygenated blood circulation.

  • Zaatar improves cognitive growth. 

Adding zaatar to your food can help you remember things better. Zaatar is well-known for improving blood circulation, which in turn boosts cerebral activity. It also contains a lot of minerals that help the brain function better.

  • Zaatar relieves inflammation.

Zaatar soothes inflammation, which is one of the most intriguing health benefits of zaatar. So, if you have any bug bites or aching joints on your body, simply make a paste out of your zaatar and apply it to the inflamed portions of your body. You will notice a huge difference. Furthermore, zaatar has anti-inflammatory properties in the body, which is beneficial if you have arthritis, gout, or other inflammatory illnesses in the respiratory system or stomach.

  • Zaatar helps to strengthen bones.

It is best for bones since it contains a variety of minerals that support bone health. Iron, calcium, copper, and magnesium are some of the nutrients in zaatar, primarily derived from sesame seeds, a zaatar ingredient. It's worth mentioning that all of the minerals mentioned above are critical for bone health; thus, incorporating zaatar into your diet could benefit your health.

  • Zaatar enhances skin health.

It improves the quality of skin texture, and if you have wounds, you can use it to assist speed up the healing process. Zaatar also helps to reduce blemishes and aging spots on people's faces. If you've been struggling to locate natural skin solutions, zaatar is an excellent place to start.

  • Zaatar boosts the immune system: 

Zaatar spice improves the immune system because it is made up of a variety of nutritional ingredients. Each of these herbs and spices has a specific nutrient that boosts your immune system.

  • Zaatar looks after your chronic diseases: 

One of the main ingredients in zaatar is sumac, which includes quercetin. This substance counteracts free radicals and prevents cancer from spreading. As a result, if you eat zaatar, your chances of contracting cancer are slim, as sumac inhibits the formation of free radicals, which cause chronic diseases like cancer.

What Distinguishes Zaatar From Other Spices?

It's non-perishable and can be kept on kitchen countertops in a pinch dip bowl with olive oil to be used as a side dish, condiment, or main meal when there's nothing else to eat.

How Zaatar Taste Like?

Zaatar's flavor is typically tangy, herbaceous, nutty, or toasted. This is because it is produced with a variety of components. Because of the sumac, a tart spice with a sour and acid flavor, zaatar has a tangy flavor. Zaatar's herbal and earthly flavor originates from all of the herbs used in its preparation, such as oregano and thyme. In contrast, the nutty or toasted flavor comes from sesame seeds.

What Is The Texture Of Zaatar Spice?

An authentic Zaatar spice blend would be earthy, grassy, a little sour, and nutty herb spice mix, depending on quality and freshness. With mildly roasted sesame seeds, it has the texture of ground (but not too fine) oregano/thyme-like herbs. The texture should be frothier and free-flowing than a fine spice powder.

Is Every Zaatar Spice Mix The Same Everywhere?

The ingredients used, proportions, and quality vary significantly from one brand and mix to the next. Furthermore, the term zaatar is increasingly being used to refer to spice mixes that do not contain any ingredients or have a flavor faithful to its Middle-Eastern history. Zaatar Spice Blends may vary, but the mainstay ingredients should remain for authentic flavor and aroma.

Zaatar mix recipes in the native Levant countries (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan) vary slightly. They may incorporate various spices and fillings in addition to the ground Zaatar herb. For the original zaatar mix, the essence should be regulated by the mainstay element of the Zaatar herb (Syrian Oregano/Bible Hyssop), authentic sumac, and roasted sesame seeds.

You may find one or more of the fillings and spices listed below in various Zaatar combination variants, 

  • Ground wheat
  • Ground peanut 
  • Ground chickpeas
  • Ground peas
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground fennel
  • Ground coriander
  • Ground caraway
  • Ground anise seed
  • Ground roasted melon seed kernel
  • Ground roasted watermelon seed kernel
  • Ground roasted hazelnut
  • Dried pomegranate seed, and others.

How can you compare zaatar spice blends and decide which to buy?

Online or in the market, there are many combinations, brands, and sizes to choose from. Tasteless ground straw (and unknown contents) to a fresh and delectable combination - artisan cultivated and combined with honest essential components - are all possibilities. 

While buying, look for ingredients that are transparent and genuine. Also, look for more recent reviews as many high-quality companies have lately hit the market.

Genuine zaatar herb (Hyssop / Syrian oregano) from the East Mediterranean region is not commonly seen in mixes. Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram, and Savory herb are some of the more frequent zaatar herb substitutes. They can be flavorful if the herbs are fresh and in good grade and amount.

Helpful Suggestion: Of course, we invite you to sample our zaatar spice blend. It will raise and establish your zaatar quality and flavor standards.

Why buy from us?

Even if a market-bought combination claims to contains authentic Zaatar herb, that doesn't mean it'll taste excellent. Zaatar Spice blend (like all blends) is available in a variety of grades and freshness levels.

Our Premium grades feature a higher quantity of essential oils that drive flavor in the zaatar spice blend.  Moreover, our product is enriched with all the health benefits that zaatar is famous for.

Importantly, our higher-quality spice blend preparation is labor-intensive and thorough, with just the fragile leaves of the dried plant being washed and sifted rather than stalks, stems, and twigs.

Our spice blends are subjected to further processing, such as removing a cottony covering on thyme leaves, improving purity and flavor.

The ingredients we use in our aromatic and flavorful zaatar spice mix are marjoram, oregano, cumin, roasted sesame seeds, thyme, and sumac.

Our products have no preservatives or additives such as food coloring. They are Salt-free, Gluten-free, Nut-free, and Fat-free. 100% pure.

Conclusion 

Zaatar is a well-known seasoning combination that imparts a citrusy taste to foods with a hint of nuttiness. It also imparts a particular aroma to food, making it enticing. Sumac, marjoram, oregano, thyme, salt, and sesame seeds are among the components used to make it. Because it is created with various ingredients, zaatar has a varied flavor that is acidic, herbaceous, and nutty. It has various medical properties, including aiding cognitive growth, reducing inflammation, strengthening bones, boosting the immune system, and clearing the respiratory tract. However, there is no official standard in the market, so there are many variations of zaatar seasoning available.

Order authentic zaatar spice blend from us and never get disappointed. We assure you that we deliver fresh and finest quality product that is filled with authentic ingredients.

Leena Spices Zataar

Is zaatar spice gluten-free?

As they contain ground-roasted wheat, most zaatar combinations on the market aren't. On the other hand, some zaatar combinations are gluten-free if the claim comes from a reliable and trustworthy source.

Is there any information about zaatar allergies?

Zaatar combinations can comprise a variety of spices as well as fillers such as wheat and other grains. Traditional combinations frequently include sesame seed, sumac, and Mint family herbs such as thyme, oregano, and marjoram. It's essential to locate a reputable brand and ask them to double-check everything. 

What is the zaatar shelf life?

If the components are dried, grounded, blended well, and stored in an airtight container away from sunshine, heat, and moisture, it will last around two years from the date of opening.

Is zaatar the same plant as hyssop, which is mentioned in the Bible?

According to scholarly botanical studies, the answer is yes. Prior botanical and theological research, historical use, and chemical examination of numerous species of Zaatar plants found in the Holy Land led the researchers to conclude that Zaatar and biblical hyssop are one and same.

Is zaatar the same as Oregano from Greece? 

No, Zaatar and Greek Oregano are not exact. Although the appearance and aroma are similar, the flavor is distinct. There are 50 or more oregano-like and thyme-like plant species. According to some estimates, these herbs differ in aroma and flavor due to varied essential oil compositions. However, zaatar is more relatable to Syrian or Lebanese oregano.

 

 

 


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