Zaatar, a Taste of the Middle East

person Posted By: Christina K. list In: Blogs On: comment Comment: 0 favorite Hit: 1909


Zaatar in Arabic means thyme. But we also use this term to designate a mixture of herbs and traditional spices from the Middle East. The thyme that they use (wild thyme) is different from the variety that we can find in the US. Its leaves are big and wide (the taste remains almost identical). It is dried and then rubbed in the hands to obtain ground thyme.
It is widely used in many cuisines and quite popular in Israel, Egypt, Syria, Greece, Turkey, Algeria, Armenia, Libya, Morocco, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.


You can use zaatar to season salads or condiments, flavor a pan of vegetables, meats, make marinades, etc. But in the Middle East, zaatar is most often tasted accompanied by its 2 faithful accomplices: bread and olive oil!

There are 2 traditional ways to eat zaatar:

STEP 1: Zaatar w zeit: zaatar + olive oil + bread (by bite or sandwich)

Zaatar is eaten with bread, but first it is blended with good olive oil. The famous “zaatar w zeit” (thyme and oil) is one of the most popular things in an oriental breakfast. And for some, breakfast is just that and a glass of tea.

STEP 2: There's also another way to eat zaatar which is quite popular and it's called "Manakish"; a kind of pizza topped with a mixture of olive oil and zaatar, and that Lebanese often eat for breakfast. You can make your own manakish at home by simply using the zaatar spice. It’s very easy and delicious, and keeps you full longer.



Packed with iron and magnesium, thyme, sumac and sesame seeds are natural energizers that should not be overlooked. In Lebanon, children and teenagers take zaatar before their exams! As a bonus, it has antioxidant properties increased tenfold by the synergy between the three ingredients that compose it.
Another advantage of thyme, it is very rich in vitamin K, essential to strengthen the density of bones. In children, it allows a harmonious growth of the bone system, and in the elderly, it prevents osteoporosis. This vitamin also promotes blood clotting.
Thyme and sumac have been known since ancient times for their healing properties: these two plants are part of the panoply of medicinal herbs with highly concentrated active ingredients. They are both real "microbe killers", rich in flavonoids, effective in relieving respiratory pathologies. They are also recommended to fight against digestive disorders, especially when consumed together.
You can also take thyme herb as an infusion if you have digestive problems, and you will see the results fairly quickly. This can work for colds and sore throats as well. Just smelling the very pleasant zaatar-scented water vapor helps you clear your sinuses.


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