Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New Flavor Day - Za'atar

... or zahtar.  That's the problem with transliteration.  No one can agree on the spelling.

What is it?

For our purposes* - it is a spice mixture popular particularly in Middle Eastern countries - especially the ones facing the Mediterranean.  It's also a name for a shrub - and attaches itself to other things, but here I'm talking about the spice - and specifically RED za'atar - the kind with sumac berries!†

Partly due to laziness and other partly due to  buzy-ness, I just hadn't gotten my hands on any.  I've been hearing about sumac - it's mysterious citrusy sourness, and the tongue tingling taste that is the herb mix za'atar for years.  Well finally it is MINE!

And it was about time.
Often eaten as a condiment to flatbread - I opened up my fridge, did a little taste testing and went savory sweet.

Fastest Way to Enjoy Za'atar

Toast a tortilla (my fridge had corn) or other flatbread,
Add butter - and get it melty.
Sprinkle on a little salt, a little sugar, and lots of za'atar.
It will disappear.

* Just a little looking around shows me that the word "za'atar" is a little like the word "curry."  It means many things to many people, is location specific, and has muddy boundaries.  There is one version that will be known "world wide," and that will change over time.  But in the meantime, this version is pretty awesome.  It's now available all over the place online, and in almost anyplace that sells loose spices (like the bulk section of my favorite grocery store), and I'm guessing soon to be found in the spice aisle in bottles.  And easy to find in your local middle eastern grocery.  If one of those is easy to find.

† If you are anything like me, you may have been told of "poison sumac," a plant that gives you the same type of rash as poison ivy/oak.  This is an entirely different genus of plant - and completely unrelated.  All the same I was suspicious there a bit of this "sumac" stuff.  Silly me.

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