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Jewish Recipes --> Spices and Ingredients -- > Za'atar

Za'atar (Arabic زعتر, Hebrew זעתר) is a popular mixture of spices that originated in the Middle East. Green za'atar is traditionally composed of wild oregano (Origanum syriacum, formerly Majorana s.), toasted white sesame seeds, and salt. Some sources additionally list savory, hyssop, thyme, cumin, and fennel seed to name a few. Red za'atar is made with sumac. Different versions of za'atar will differ greatly in proportions.

This mixture is of Jordanian origin and has a few more spices added to it than the original mixture. This mixture is used to sprinkle onto kebabs, meatballs and vegetables, or used as a dip.

Like most English words from Semitic languages, there exist alternate spellings: zaatar, zatar or zahatar.

Za'atar is a Middle-Eastern spice blend based on Syrian Hyssop (likely the hyssop referenced in the Bible), which grows wild in the region. It's character is reminiscent of marjoram, thyme or oregano, though it is not quite as pungent as oregano.

In Lebanon, there is a belief that this particular spice mixture makes the mind alert and the body strong. For this reason, children are encouraged to eat a za'atar sandwich for breakfast before an exam. The mixture is also popular in Israel, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and North Africa. It is used to spice meats and vegetables, and it is also mixed with olive oil to make a spread (za'atar-ul-zayt or zayt-tu-zaa'tar) which is used as a dip for sesame rings (ka'k). Za'atar can also be spread on a dough base for the Middle-Eastern equivalent of a miniature pizza.

Here is a simple recipe for Syrian Za'atar

  • 1/4 cup ground sumac, dry
  • 2 teaspoons dry thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

see: Israeli Salads

Nutrition Facts Serving Size 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving

  • Calories 10

% Daily Value*

  • Total Fat 0.0 g 0 %
  • Sodium 20 mg 1 %
  • Total Carbohydrate 1 g 0 %
  • Dietary Fiber 0 g 0 %
  • Protein < 1 g 0 %

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Sept 2005 - 2013 - Kosher Recipes - Kosher Cooking - Jewish Cooking - Jewish Recipes - Jewish Foods