Za’atar – What you need to know

12 Aug

Za’atar is just brilliant and the fact that most people don’t know what it is causes Man Woman to despair for the future of humanity.

The herb mix is one of the many amazing things given to us by the generous Lebanese. At my high school tuck shop (aka canteen), we were multi-ethnic enough to have on our Tuesday menu za’atar on rolled flatbread, which was a significant step up from our friend the Chiko Roll. Mostly, though, I remember it from my friend’s mum Houda who would feed us amazing food whenever I and my other friends would trundle into her western Sydney home. I want to crack into Houda’s brain and extract a lot of Lebanese recipes.

You can buy it at Lebanese grocers and spice shops in places like Edgeware Road, but it’s really easy and cheap to make it yourself. Only trick is that you’ve got to find sumac – which you should be able to get from any middle-eastern supermarket (or fork out a fiver for a pack at Borough Market).


  • 2 parts dried thyme
  • 1 part sesame seeds
  • 1 part sumac
  • Generous amount of sea salt

Mix up and store in a jar.

Sick of serving your posh bread with olive oil with oddly floating puddles of balsamic in it? Have a little plate of za’atar beside oil, do a dip and dip and OMG. OMG indeed.

Alternately you can use it to marinade meats (murderer), chuck through salads, sprinkle over soft boiled eggs, drizzle with oil over feta. The opportunities are endless. Za’atar is so the new pesto. You heard it here first.


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