Wednesday 18 July 2007


Za'atar - a spice blend to get talked into trying!

Today, like many days, I went to Truffle, and as usual, managed to walk out with more than I had on my list, well actually not even what was on my list. My list was not that expansive, well it only included sumac which John encouraged me to change for Za'atar. If, like I was, you are not entirely sure of what Za'atar is then let me help you out.

Za'atar is an Arabic word that is used to describe both the herb thyme and a spice blend made from thyme, sesame, sumac and salt. Za'atar is commonly found on top of flat bread in a Middle Eastern restaurant, and now I know, I can remember times I have had it sprinkled on bread in mezze. Another way a friend described to use it is by dry frying it to release the aromas and flavours then mixing with olive oil to use as a dip for pita bread. I can be used to season many a bread, vegetable and meat.

If you are unable to find Za'atar common proportions are :

1 salt : 2 toasted sesame seeds : 4 sumac : 12 dried thyme

I used the Za'atar to coat some lamb backstraps and served them with tabbouleh, the last of my mother's tomatoes and roasted beetroot. I first rubbed the lamb with some garlic olive oil and generously coated with the Za'atar and left to rest and infuse for half an hour. I seared the lamb in a hot pan and popped it into a 200°c oven for 15 minutes then rested it for 5 minutes before slicing. Such a good, quick, easy dinner.

By the way, this was the dish and post that I cooked and blogged about when Emily, Zach and Max came to visit to film me for Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie. They were in New Zealand to do a segment on New Zealand and part of an episode about food blogging both of which are part of Season two which should start to air in America from January 2008 and I imagine a little later in New Zealand.
Thanks to John at Truffle, Ian at Meat, Commonsense Organics and Paul at Rumbles for letting us visit! Your products are amazing, but would I have calling you my favourite shops if I did not think that?!


Barbara said...

Do let us know when it's on so we can watch.

Julie said...

Wow, I LOVE Diary of a Foodie. I can't wait to see your episode. I make my own za'atar for flat bread, and it is fantastic stuff. It would be perfect as a rub for lamb. I originally made it for a recipe from Jose Andres restaurant, Zatinya, that I wanted to imitate at home: goat cheese-stuffed grape leaves.

Nigel Olsen said...

Wow! I can't wait to see your segment on TV, Emma - well done!

Emma said...

Thanks - I will let you know! I hope it turns out well - can't wait to find how they turn 6+ hours of filming into 6 minutes on the telly.

Julie - good tip about the stuffed grape leaves, thanks, I have already used the za'atar three times and I suspect it will become a default seasoning for me.