Can a seasoning blend be cheerful? I think za’atar is. It has such a bright, open flavor that it will make you smile. I thought that even before I read that marjoram and oregano contain compounds that, at least in rodents, can affect dopamine and serotonin levels. Since that’s how many antidepressant medications work, maybe I’m onto something there.
Hailing from the Middle East, Za’atar is most frequently used as a table condiment, sprinkled on various foods such as Hummus. It can also be used as a rub, either dry or mixed with olive oil, or used in recipes such as Za’atar Sheet Pan Supper, Za’atar-Crusted Chicken Tenders, and Grilled Za’atar Zucchini. The next things I want to try with it are Beer Can Chicken, or mixed with olive oil and spread on flatbread just before baking, or in lemon cookies.
From what I’ve read, there is definitely an “authentic” za’atar. To be more accurate, there are many. The exact composition of the blend can vary not just from one area of the Middle East to another, but from one household to the next. So I guess my take on za’atar is “authentic,” too, if only to my household.
1 Tbsp ground sumac
1½ tsp thyme
1½ tsp marjoram
1½ tsp oregano
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1.) Grind the thyme with a mortar and pestle if it isn’t already ground. Crumble the oregano and marjoram or add it to the mortar. Stir in the sumac and sesame seeds.