Za’atar Recipe


Za’atar Recipe


  • 1/4 cup (15g) Dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon (7g) Dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon (7g) Ground sumac
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) Sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) Salt
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Ground cumin


  1. Toast Sesame Seeds: In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until they’re golden brown, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Remove from heat and let cool.
    • Toasting: Enhances the flavor of the sesame seeds through the Maillard reaction, which develops a rich, nutty aroma.
  2. Combine Ingredients: In a bowl, mix together the toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme, dried oregano, ground sumac, salt, and optional ground cumin.
    • Dried Thyme and Oregano: Provide the base herbal flavors. Drying herbs concentrates their flavors by removing water, intensifying their aroma and taste.
    • Ground Sumac: Adds a tangy, lemon-like flavor and a slightly fruity aroma.
    • Salt: Enhances overall flavors.
    • Optional Ground Cumin: Adds an earthy, warm depth.
  3. Grind Mixture (Optional): For a finer texture, lightly grind the mixture in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. This step is optional and based on texture preference.
    • Grinding: Breaks down the herbs and seeds, releasing more of their essential oils and blending the flavors more thoroughly.
  4. Store: Transfer the za’atar to an airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place.
    • Storage: Keeping za’atar in an airtight container helps to maintain its potency by minimizing exposure to air and light, which can degrade the essential oils and flavors over time.

Scientific Explanations

  • Toasting Sesame Seeds: Toasting seeds enhances their flavor through the Maillard reaction, which occurs when amino acids and reducing sugars in the seeds react under heat, developing complex, nutty, and roasted flavors.
  • Drying of Herbs: The process of drying herbs like thyme and oregano concentrates their flavors. When herbs are dried, water evaporates, reducing the volume but intensifying the essential oils and flavors.
  • Sumac Flavor Profile: Sumac adds a unique tartness to za’atar, due to the presence of malic and citric acids in sumac berries, which have a flavor profile similar to lemon.
  • Grinding: Grinding the mixture can release more essential oils from the herbs and seeds, intensifying the overall flavor and aroma of za’atar. However, over-grinding can lead to a loss of texture.

Za’atar is a versatile Middle Eastern spice blend that combines the aromatic flavors of herbs, the tanginess of sumac, and the nuttiness of sesame seeds. Each ingredient contributes its unique flavors and aromas, creating a complex and harmonious blend. The optional grinding step can further enhance the blend by releasing essential oils and blending the flavors more intimately

John Nguyen
John Nguyen
Articles: 103

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