A Gift from the Pharaohs
The Middle East and Asia are famous for their spices which are the secret behind the most aromatic and exquisite dishes of the regions. One such spice is Za’atar (pronounced as Zah-tuhr in English). Za’atar has a fascinating history of more than a thousand years, dating all the way back to the time of the Pharaohs.
In recent times, Za’atar has become more commonly known as a Middle Eastern spice with Lebanese origins. However, the word Za’atar is also used to define wild thyme or hyssop and can be linked to Biblical mentions of the hyssop plant. Considering its rich history , it is truly an everything spice - sprinkle this on any dish and instantly make it taste ten times better!
The Elements of Za’atar
The most common combination of Za’atar includes sesame seeds, sumac, salt, and oregano or thyme. However, the recipe for Za’atar can vary from region to region, with different households having their own special blends. These special blends usually add some extra flavour or “zing” to this already perfect mixture.
The Za’atar blend is often mixed with olive oil to enhance its flavour and texture. We at Holy Land Dates recommend pairing our fully organic Palestinian Za’atar blend with our extra virgin olive oil to savour with your snacks or even as a dip for man’oushe!
Your Spice Cabinet is Missing out
If you have read this far, then get ready to make some space in your spice cabinet for Za’atar. Because, not only does this spice add flavour, aroma, and personality to your otherwise simple dish, it also has numerous health benefits. Each ingredient used in Za’atar is extremely beneficial to the human body and mind. This zesty, earthy, and aromatic mixture is full of minerals, flavonoids and other nutrients that make your dishes ten times better, and also work wonders on your health.
The use of Za’atar as a medicinal herb can be traced back to the 12th century. The famous Spanish Jewish philosopher prescribed the Za’atar blend for a variety of ailments, and even considered it brain food. The main ingredient of Za’atar, thyme, was considered an antibacterial herb, appetite enhancer and a stomach purifier by Arab philosophers and scientists in the 9th century AD. The Arabs did not necessarily use a Za’atar blend at that time, but the elements of Za’atar were excessively used as medicine.
Recent scientific research has confirmed the health benefits of Za’atar. The blend contains vitamins A, C, E, and K. Sumac and sesame seeds have exceptionally high antioxidant properties and are full of essential nutrients and vitamins. Thyme and oregano are both abundant with essential oils such as thymol and phenol, which help boost cognition, energy levels and help improve your mood.
So, from stomach and digestion problems, to helping boost your brain activity and even your mood and energy, Za’atar can apparently do it all! It is clearly not just an everything spice in terms of flavour and aroma, it’s an everything blend for your health too!
Where to use Za’atar?
One of our favourite bloggers Suzy Karadsheh has compiled a list of delicious recipes which can be made using Za’atar. The list contains vegan, vegetarian and meat recipes which are all extremely healthy and tasty. Our favourite is the Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Za’atar and Tahini as it makes up for an excellent snack (or meal). We at Holy Land Dates can testify that it is almost impossible to resist the tantalizing smell and aroma!
How to get Za’atar?
Head on over to our website to purchase our very own all natural and fresh Za’atar blend. The Holy Land Dates Za’atar is a mixture of whole sesame seeds, sumac, oregano, and a hint of salt. In case you want some extra spice or zing, feel free to add some chilli flakes and lemon to the mixture and give your dish an extra boost.
In case you are not in an area where we deliver, check your local grocery store for this blend. Otherwise, you can even make your own Za’atar using this recipe!
We think now it is time to go and reserve a spot for this wonderful spice in your kitchen cabinet, and let the legacy of Za’atar bless your dishes!