July 28, 2010

Aah - The Magic of Zaatar...

With my Indian cooking spell largely behind me, I am now knee-deep in the fascinating world of Sheherezade from A Thousand and One Arabian Nights..."How come?" you may ask...It's all about Zaatar...

I had the good fortune of receiving this magic (...and I guess no longer secret) ingredient from a colleague at work today and couldn't wait to put it good use. 

To my surprise,  zaatar resembles very much a beloved spice from my childhood in Bulgaria called samardala ( [самардала] in Bulgarian ) -  an herb with garlicky flavor called honey garlic (Nectaroscordum siculum ssp. bulgaricum syn. Allium bulgaricum). It turns out Zaatar contains savory - another  Bulgarian staple.

From Wikipedia:

Za'atar (Arabicزعتر‎, also romanized zaatarza'tarzatarzatrzahatarzaktar or satar) related Middle Eastern herbs from the genera Origanum (Oregano),Calamintha (Basil thyme), Thymus vulgaris (Thyme ) and Satureja (Savory).[1] It is also the name for acondiment made from the dried herb(s), mixed together with sesame seeds, and often salt, as well as other spices.[2] Used in Arab cuisine since medieval times, both the herb and spice mixture are popular throughout the Middle East and Levant.

I made a classic Middle Eastern tomato and cucumber salad with Tahini dressing:

Tahini dressing:

- 1 teaspoon tahini
- 1 teaspoon water
- juice of one lemon
- a bit of sea salt
- 1 large clove of minced garlic


  1. Interesting dressing! As always I am looking for new dressings.
    Marulka, could you, please, ask you colleague where she bought the spice. Was it the International Food Bazaar?

  2. I bought the tahini from Whole Foods and the spice is from International food bazaar.