I love it sprinkled on hummus, thrown over freshly grilled veggies, added to salads, or tossed into yogurt sauce. And the fact is, nothing brings the same tangy *zing* to chicken as a nice sprinkling of ground sumac. Nigella Lawson provides a great basic recipe for Za'atar Chicken in her book Forever Summer
Used by ancient peoples before lemon was widely available, sumac (made from dried ground berries from the sumac bush) brings a tart, fruity flavor to a variety of dishes. In addition to using sumac alone, we also love it combined with other herbs -- most commonly as za'atar.There are numerous variations of the Arab herbal mixture known as za'atar (or zhatar). In addition to sumac (which is common), the mixture often includes sesame seeds (whole or ground), salt, thyme, oregano or marjoram, savory, cumin, coriander, or even fennel. We happen to use a combination that includes sumac, thyme leaves, white sesame seeds, and salt.
Medical studies have suggested that za'atar has some antioxidant properties, and it may also stimulate antimicrobial activity against microorganisms as Salmonella and Staphylococcus (good news in this climate of food borne illness). But, we love it simply because it tastes good.
The best part is, you can obtain your very own little piles of sumac and za'atar from Penzey's or The Spice House (though I'd always encourage you to support your own local spice distributors if you can).
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