za’atar mix 50g


discover real za’atar

This aromatic za’atar mix comes from Bassatin Baanoub, who farm following organic principals, in a forgotten paradise in Lebanon. They harvest only the flowering tips of the oregano plant native to Lebanon (Origanum syriacum). Instead of grinding the leaves finely, to maintain their powerful aroma the leaves are coarsely ground. Mixed with lightly roasted sesame seeds, sumac and some salt, this essential part of an eastern Mediterranean diet is sure to impress your taste buds.

to serve

In Lebanon za’atar mix is served with extra virgin olive oil and eaten with bread and labneh for breakfast. Its distinctive fragrance works well as a savoury seasoning rubbed over chicken. Chickpeas and pasta are also perfect vehicles for the deep flavour hit this spice blend gives to a dish. Makes an elegant savoury biscuit too. Let your tastebuds be creative!

Once open, store in a cool dry place.

ingredients: oregano flowering tips, sesame seeds, sumac & salt. 


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what is za'atar mix ?

A blend of oregano, (Origanum syriacum), sumac (Rhus coriaria), sesame seeds and a little salt. Bassatin Baanoub’s mix contains one herb, oregano, and not thyme (confusingly also called za’atar in Arabic). Since it’s been part of the eastern Mediterranean diet for thousands of years, each region, and indeed family, will have their own recipe. In August, when oregano and sumac are harvested, families gather their own, to store this precious health giving ingredient for the winter. 

a plate of za'atar mix without oil

The owners of Bassatin Baanoub, Yasmina and Jean-Pierre, who grow the oregano and sumac, are careful to leave enough of the flowers on the plants, so the bees can collect the pollen for honey. 

Origanum syriacum

bees on the flowers of the Origanum syriacum

Native to Lebanon, Origanum syriacum grows wild throughout the country. During the summer, Yasmina and her small team of workers hand pick the white flowering tips. They leave them to dry before picking off the end part, which is then crushed and added to the mixture. In the picture below, you can see the dried oregano flower on the left, and thyme on the right.  As a protected plant, Yasmina needs to obtain a licence from the government to be able to sell and export the za’atar mix from Lebanon. 

on the left is oregano, and on the right is thyme

Rhus coriaria

sumac drying in the sun after harvest

Sumac, otherwise known as Rhus coriaria, is a key ingredient in Lebanese kitchens. It’s much loved in Turkey and Iran too for its zesty sourness. In the za’atar mix, sumac adds lemony notes, helping to balance out the strength of the aromatic oregano. Famous also for its deep red colour, which comes once it has been completely dried in the sun, this is such a quintessentially Lebanese spice. 

health benefits

Today research shows that all the individual ingredients in za’atar mix have benefits for our health. It is their combined anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties which are of interest to us as a source of “healthy” food. As an iconic food staple in Lebanon, it belongs to an ancient culinary heritage which embodies Hipprocrates’ saying: “Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food“. 

how is it used in Lebanon?

It’s hard to ignore the smell as you walk past a bakery in Lebanon. Intensively aromatic, the mixture is blended with olive oil and spread on dough to be baked in an oven for a few minutes. Mana’eesh were once a daily staple in Lebanon, eaten for breakfast or a mid carbohydrate boost. Since the economic crash, many families treat themselves once a month. Some will bring their own oil and za’atar mix, so that they only have to pay for the dough.

za'atar manoushe photographed by Joao Sous
photo by Joao Sousa L’Orient Le Jour 

The habit of using the furun (bakery) as a communal oven came into being during the Civil War, according to Kamal Mouzzawak in an article from L’Orient Le Jour by Amanda Haydar. As Lebanon now faces a worse economic crisis, the same practice is being repeated. 

put some flavour on the table!

A small bowl of za’atar mix blended with some extra virgin olive oil, good bread, labneh, cucumber & tomatoes and some mint leaves, a bowl of olives make a wonderful savoury breakfast in the summer. A lovely way to start the day with friends over the weekend.

a photo of za'atar, labneh, tomatoes, cucumber

Za’atar mix can also be used as a seasoning, a wonderful way of bringing the aroma of the Lebanese mountain into your kitchen. Rub over chicken, add some to a savoury biscuit mixture, or scatter into a chickpea and pasta dish. We hope that the delicious fragrance in your kitchen inspires you to create new dishes. 

chicken pieces rubbed with za'atar mix and roasted with potatoes and lemon and extra virgin olive oil
chickpeas and pasta with za'atar


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