What is za'atar?

October 3, 2023

Za’atar is an aromatic hand-crafted blend produced from a variety of thyme indigenous to Palestine which is shade-dried then mixed with toasted sesame seeds, sumac, sea salt and a dash of olive oil. This zesty herb mix with the crunch of sesame is an absolute staple in every Palestinian kitchen cupboard.

Recipes date back at least to the 13th century, and families often have their own unique mixture developed over the generations. Palestinian homes will have plenty of za’atar on hand to have with olive oil, bread and eggs or labneh for breakfast

Where does the name za’atar come from?

The za’atar blend takes its name from the Palestinian herb known by the same name in Arabic. The Latin name of the herb is majorana syriaca or origanum syriacum, and can be thyme, oregano or marjoram in English.

“Za’atar makes you smarter”

Traditionally said to improve concentration, generations of schoolchildren have carried a za’atar sandwich in their lunchboxes!

Za’atar is so versatile

  • Sprinkle on eggs – fried, scrambled, poached or boiled. Eggs love za’atar!
  • Dredge feta in za’atar and olive oil for a simple party hors d’oeuvre
  • Add to grated halloumi or cheddar for a toastie with a difference
  • Add a generous dusting of za’atar to labneh or hummus & drizzle generously with olive oil
  • Mix with olive oil then coat potatoes or root vegetables before roasting
  • Mix with olive oil to make za’atar crusted lamb, chicken or fish
  • Mix with olive oil and brush onto puff pastry to make a savoury puff pastry twist for an easy appetiser

Some great za’atar recipes

Mana’eesh, the iconic Palestinian flatbread topped with a mix of zesty za’atar and olive oil, is easy to make with…
An easy recipe for mac n’ cheese with a crunchy za’atar and breadcrumb topping
These cheese and za’atar rolls from Sabrina Ghayour make wonderful sandwiches as well as being a great alternative to the…

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