Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Za'atar. for lack of a better title. . .

With a history as mysterious as its flavors, its no wonder the earthy spice blend Za'atar is slowly getting recognition in the east bay. A rich blend of toasted sesame seeds, Marjoram, and Thyme provide a perfect base for the simplest of dishes.

Za'atar is thought to have begun as simply wild Marjoram that was dried out in the sun. As time moved on so did the development of the spice. Women of the Arabic peninsula began creating distinct recipes that were kept secret. So much so that they would not even be passed down to next of kin. Each having it's own distinction explains the lack of an original recipe. It has now evolved into so much more. Many modern day Za'atar recipes now call for savory and sumac, which add a very floral dimension.

This Middle eastern spice is not limited in its uses which makes it a local favorite. Added to a first press olive oil, It makes for a delicious bread dip. Dry rubbed on lamb prior to grilling gives BBQ a one up . Pita bread or Nan can also be seasoned with Za'atar then baked.

Want to sample this spice first hand? Appropriately named restaurant "Zatar" in Berkeley offers many dishes that boast the unique qualities of this seasoning. If playing with the spice at home is more attractive, Whole Spice of Peteluma,CA offers an exceptional blend .

With Za'attars versatility and nutty flavor expect to see it showcased more often within the east bay for this culinary trend is on the rise.

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