What in the world is Zaatar?
Zaatar is a Middle Eastern spice blend generally prepared using ground dried thyme, oregano, and marjoram (an herb with a sweet pine and citrus flavor) mixed with toasted sesame seeds and salt.
Now you may find yourself asking, what is so special about this so called Zaatar?
Zaatar is the “BAM!” to Middle Eastern cooking. Because Zaatar is such a versatile spice blend, it is used on meats, veggies, rice, and breads. It also can be mixed with olive oil to make a spread called Zaatar-Wu-Zayt as a dip for sesame bread sticks known as Ka’ak. Zaatar can also be sprinkled on Labneh (yogurt that has been drained until it becomes a tangy, creamy cheese). One of the most common dishes prepared using Zaatar is Manaeesh (Zaatar Spread on Pita Bread).
In Lebanon, there is a belief that this particular spice mixture (Zaatar) makes the mind alert and the body strong. For this reason, children are encouraged to eat Zaatar before an exam. Back home getting Manaeesh meant you had to wake up early and go down to the local “Fer’rn” (Oven) for a fresh batch.