Za'atar: how to make Lebanese spice mix and manaqish recipe to use it

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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Do you know the Za'atar? Discover the recipe for making the most popular Middle Eastern spice blend at home, especially when used on traditional Lebanese scones


Lo zaatar (spelled za'atar) is a mixture of Middle Eastern spices used as a condiment in various recipes. There basic recipe provides thyme, sesame and salt then, as with all traditional recipes, each family has its own and so they can also be used herbs such as marjoram, savory, fennel, cumin, sumac (typical Lebanese recipe) and hyssop.

It can be preserved in salt, in oil or by leaving it to dry in the sun.


History and origins

The history of this condiment is very ancient, in fact traces of it were already found in the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankamon. In the Jewish tradition, it was used during purification rituals. In Lebanon it is believed that this mixture of dried spices is able to strengthen the mind and in fact, before the exams, the boys are used to eat sandwiches flavored with zaatar. In Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan it is used to flavor Arab-style pizzas (manaqish o manakish) and, mixed with olive oil, also meats, vegetables and a typical cheese, the labneh, made from yogurt.


The properties of this condiment derive precisely from the multiple therapeutic effects of the spices used, especially of the Labiatee family, which enter into its composition:

  • thyme has antibacterial, digestive and disinfectant properties;
  • sesame is a valuable source of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins;
  • marjoram with a more delicate flavor than oregano is rich in vitamin C and is indicated in the treatment of migraines;
  • savory is an excellent intestinal disinfectant and is also indicated for lung diseases;
  • fennel and cumin are digestive and carminative;
  • il sumac, which is an intense red fruit with a sour and fruity flavor, has a strong antioxidant action;
  • finally theissopo diuretic, disinfectant and expectorant, excellent against cystitis and diseases of the respiratory system.

Za'atar, la ricetta


  • 100 g of toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp whole salt
  • organic fennel seeds
  • 4 tablespoons of oregano
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of sumac (can be found in spice or ethnic stores)
  • A nice handful of thyme


The preparation of za'atar is very simple: just mix the well-dried ingredients and place them in a closed jar in the dark, ready to use if necessary. At the time of use, just dilute it with a few glasses of extra virgin olive oil and let it rest for an hour so that it takes on flavor.

How to use the Za'atar

It is possible to find it ready in shops like Castroni, under the name of “Seasoning Lebanese ”, but do you want to have the satisfaction of adjusting the quantity of herbs according to your preferences?

You can use this dressing however you like, not only for grilled preparations, but also on vegetables in a pan, in baked potatoes, in tomato sauce, even spread on toast with oil!

The manqish recipe


The ideal way to use Za'atar is certainly to prepare the famous Lebanese muffins also known as manaqish


  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • ½ stick of fresh yeast
  • Za'atar


  1. Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in a cup of warm water,
  2. pour everything into a larger bowl with the flour and mix well
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and mix everything until the mixture is smooth, homogeneous and free of lumps.
  4. Form a ball, wrap it in a cloth and let it rise for at least an hour.
  5. Divide the dough into 2 parts and form low scones.
  6. Mix the za'atar with the extra virgin olive oil until the mixture is not too liquid to brush on the scones.
  7. Bake at 180 degrees in a hot oven for about 20 min. being careful not to let them become too colorful.

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