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by Jacob Schiffman
When I lived in Israel my junior year abroad in college, I started noticing that a lot of my favorite foods had a nutty, floral flavor I hadn’t seen before. I found out it was a Middle Eastern spice blend made of woody herbs (usually thyme and oregano, but traditionally hyssop), sumac and sesame seeds. There I saw it mostly on hummus or on flatbreads, but now I love putting it on roasted vegetables or fish (with a bit of honey), grilled chicken or baked eggs at breakfast. There are regional varieties of za’atar (Jordanian has more sumac and Israeli sometimes includes dill); I like the Israeli style, probably because that’s the first one I tried. Whichever one you prefer, let me know what you like to eat it on.
Find it: Look for it in most good grocery stores and any specialty spice shop.