Zaatar Pita Chips Recipe

Chips de Pita au Zaatar

[Zaatar Pita Chips]

Zaatar is a popular spice blend in Middle-Eastern cuisines — those of Syria and Lebanon in particular –, made of thyme, toasted sesame seeds, sumac, and salt. (Note: The Arabic word also means simply “thyme”, and is sometimes transcribed as za’atar, zahtar, or zatar.)

As with all generic spice blends, the flavor profile of this one will vary according to where its components came from, who mixed them, and how long ago, but a good zaatar should greet you first with an acidulated citrus smell that tickles the nose, before nutty, fruity, and grilled notes join the chorus, reaching further into the back of your mouth with an appetite-whetting effect.

Zaatar is among my favorite magic wands: it works wonders in grated carrot salads and lentil soups, I sprinkle it on fresh cheese or blend it with yogurt, I use it as an herb crust for racks of lamb or rub it on fish to be baked or grilled, and I’ve been meaning to follow Estérelle’s example and use it in a caramelized onion tart.

But the simplest way to make zaatar shine is to combine it with a good olive oil and produce a thick paste that will be spread on bread dough (manakish-style) or pitas, as described below: a short stay in the oven turns the pita wedges into crisp and golden versions of themselves that make for a fine appetizer alongside roasted or pickled vegetables.

And for an even quicker preparation, you can just serve bite-size pieces of bread, a cup of olive oil, and a saucer of zaatar, and have your guests dip the bread lightly in the olive oil, then in the zaatar. Easy, interactive, and tasty.

Zaatar can be purchased from Middle-Eastern markets and spice shops; in Paris, look for it at Izraël, Hératchian, or Massis Bleue. Keep in mind that some blends are more salty than others, so taste yours first and use accordingly.

Chips de Pita au Zaatar

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons zaatar
2 large pita rounds (the kind that’s about 20 cm or 8″ in diameter) or 4 small ones

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

Combine the olive oil and zaatar in a small bowl, stirring with a teaspoon to emulsify. Cut the pitas open all around the rims with kitchen scissors and slip your hand inside gently to separate the two layers without tearing.

Spread the zaatar mixture on the coarse sides of the pitas with the back of the spoon, cut the pita disks into wedges, and arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 4 or 5 minutes, until the wedges start to turn golden, keeping a close eye on them. Let cool for a minute and serve, warm or at room temperature.

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  • http://www.rosas-yummy-yums.blogspot.com Rosa

    I love Zaatar! It’s delicious with flatbreads…

  • http://leonine194.canalblog.com leonine19

    hmmm, chui po trop chips mais les tiens ont l’air délicieux, et au zaatar en +, miam!

  • http://www.sahten.com salwa

    je craque toujours pour le zaatar !

  • http://www.superfood.blog-city.com Richard Leader

    I’ve so far struggled to find sumac in sensible quantities – the only place I’ve found it at all is in a Turkish grocers I know where it was in 500g packets – which struck me as a little too much for my occasional needs!

  • dpnash

    I love making pita chips – a great little healthy snack. I hadn’t heard of zaatar before, but it appears the great spice store I recently found in Chicago has it, so I’ll have to get some soon. It sounds like just the sort of thing I love! Merci beaucoup!

  • http://dailyunadventures.blogspot.com Katerina

    Wow, I have never even heard of Zaatar before but it sounds fabulous. How could thyme and roast sesame seeds be bad? I will have to go locate some, thanks for the info!

  • paperbackwriter

    I love this stuff! There is actually a terrific little restaurant in Berkeley called Zatar. I was hoping to find a recipe for the spice mix itself but I was unaware that I might find it pre-mixed. Good tip. Thank you!

  • http://www.theportlychef.com/blog Chef Scott

    Making these pita chips is a favorite of mine, and everyone at parties raves over them. I’ve never used Zaatar (though I have it on my rack). We usually mix Emeril’s Essence and a lot of garlic into the olive oil, then finish with Kosher salt.

  • http://www.maminaclaude.canalblog.com/ mamina

    Justement, j’attends de recevoir du zaatar, je vais pouvoir goûter ça.

  • Rich

    It’s rare to run across a good review for Za’atar. I’m glad I did.

    One thing in all my time with Lebanese cuisine that I could never get right was Za’atar. Is it possible you could post a few Za’atar recipes? I’m looking for a good homemade blend, but I can’t find one that satifies me.

    Anybody that really wants the best Za’atar should head to Syria. They have the best on the planet. If not, you can find Za’atar in most Middle Eastern bakeries. I prefer the reddish Za’atar over the green. It’s a much more rich and full flavor.

  • suzy

    If you’re looking for zataar in the US, Penzey’s carries it. (I’m lucky enough to have a Penzey’s up the street from me.) I use zataar a lot, too!
    Here’s another snap of a starter: take a piece of feta, sprinkle with some zataar, some olive oil, maybe some hot pepper. ( Also a little chopped tomatoes and chopped olives, if you have any.) Stick it under the broiler for a few minutes. Serve warm with pita or whatever you’ve got.

  • Swisskaese

    Zaatar or hyssop as it is know in English is not thyme. It is wild oregano.

    Here in Israel, we eat it on hummous, pita, pizza, labane…..

  • http://chewonthat.blogspot.com Max

    My first encounter with zataar was on sprinkled atop hummus and it’s delicious! I love your interactive dipping idea and will have to wow my guests with it. Thanks!

  • Sophie

    As Swisskaese said, for me Za’atar is a wild oregano. I was born in Morocco and when we were sick with stomach troubles (vomits, etc) my mother would give us a Zaatar tea.
    I love oregano nowadays, but I can tell you that in tea, it is a nightmare…!

  • http://www.jjdayfamily.com/cindy/blog/ Cindy

    My boyfriend started buying Zaatar from Sahadi’s (Brooklyn) a year ago, after we’d had “Zataar bread” at a local middle eastern place a few times. I love heating up flatbread in a little olive oil in a frying pan, and then spreading the zataat/olive oil mixture on top and slicing it up like pizza — it’s addictive!

  • http://www.herestheveg.blogspot.com another Cindy

    I received some Oxfam brand za’atar for Christmas. My favourite use so far has been to cut potato and cauliflower into small pieces, roast in a little olive oil, and then toss through a tablespoon of the za’atar when they’re done.

  • http://www.monikakorngut.com Monika Korngut

    I have never heard of this spice but I love experimenting with new things. I will pick it up for sure.

    I like your interactive dipping idea, that way people can be in control of how much oil consume. That is the health conscious individuals.

    All the best,

  • Ronnie

    I think you can substitute paprika for sumac. I use the smoked type.

    Some people have to be careful when using Sumac, it can cause reaction to those with alergies.

  • http://foodblogga.blogspot.com Susan from Food “Blogga”

    A fantastic Middle Eastern restaurant introduced me to zaatar, and now I make it all the time. I love its versatility and ability to enhance even the commonest of dishes. Thanks for a great post!

  • Miriam

    I put Za’atar (mixed in a little olive oil to make a paste) on chicken. Not only is it the easiest and quickest chicken recipe you’ll every find, it’s yum!

  • Eva

    Todd English has a great recipe with zatar (Fig’s Table cookbook) – cut carrots into matchsticks and roast with a little olive oil and s&p, then cool and toss with zatar and crumbled feta. I don’t even like carrots very much but the sweetness is cut by the slight sourness of the zatar and the salty feta . . . oh my lord it is good.

  • http://www.tulci.com Anjali

    i absolutely love zaatar! can anyone translate the tarte a l’oignon recipe with zaatar clotilde mentioned? my french is a bit tortured these days…thank you!!

  • http://www.cassieskitchen.com Cassie’s Kitchen Recipes

    I love zaatar on soft thick pitas. I’ll often have it with larmajouns as well. I’m very lucky, where I live there are a few authentic mediteranean super markets that offer excellent herb and meat pastries.

  • http://articlesofmastication.com John J. Goddard

    Not to be confused with the Dalmatian city of Zadar. But, word up on zatar. Good dipping.

  • dahlia

    Zaatar is often called either wild oregano or wild marjoram in English, definitely not thyme (the scientific name is Majorana Syriaca). It’s also a beautiful grey-green plant and if you can get it fresh, the leaves make a wonderful salad.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Swisskaese, Sophie, and Dahlia – Thanks for weighing in on the meaning of zaatar. I had found several sources that translated it as thyme, and after a little more googling I found this interesting note: “Names like Turkish kekik or Arabic zatar/satar [زعتر, صعتر] and related forms in Hebrew and Persian, often in conjunction with qualifying or descriptive adjectives, may be applied to a varity of native herbs including, but not restricted to, oregano, marjoram, thyme and savory. Usage may vary even within a given language, depending on the region and particularly on the local flora.”

    Anjali – Estérelle didn’t give an exact recipe, she simply suggested sprinkling zaatar between the crust and the onions in your favorite caramelized onion tart recipe.

  • Ann/brighidsdaughter

    Yum! Zaatar is my favorite herb blend — it’s addictive! I keep mine in the freezer to extend freshness. Til now, my favorite way to eat it was sprinkled on cottage cheese, on pita, or as a garnish for deviled eggs. Love the idea for using it as a rub for lamb & can’t wait to try that one.

  • http://holycheeseblog.blogspot.com/ Holy Cheese

    Interesting recipe !

    In most Lebanese restaurants in Israel, they use their leftover day-old pita to make zaatar crisps similar to this one, when they have run out of freshly baked pita bread.

    The pita (or crisps) are used to scoop up hummus from a collective dish (this is referred to as “wiping” the hummus off the plate…)

  • dteaj

    According to wikipedia, zaatar is both an herb in the oregano genus and a spice mixture, with or without the herb zaatar. Red zaatar has sumac as one of its components. I love this spice also! I first tasted it in Israel many years ago, never knew what it was called, and rediscovered it several years ago while experimenting with ordering spices from Adriana’s Caravan. http://www.adrianascaravan.com (No connection, just a happy customer)
    They offer a Jordanian and a Lebanese version. I like it in tomato, cucumber and onion salad with or without feta, as well as on home baked pita, which are easier than you might think, especially if you don’t care if every last one puffs open!

  • http://dressingfordinner.blogspot.com Gemma

    I love zaatar. It is great as a thick marinade on chicken but my favourite so far was a whole leg of lamb marinaded overnight in zaatar, olive oil, lemon and onion before roasting it the next day – delicious with flatbreads and tzatziki.

  • http://www.nocomprendo.es Traducciones

    You can never have enough dips. This looks delicious!

  • http://myspace.com/onlinerestaurantmarketing Duane

    This is a great idea! I’ve never heard of Zaatar, but am definitely interested.

  • Katie

    My boyfriend’s family is Palestinian and Za’atar is on the table with bread for every meal. I love the flavor and since the thyme and sumac are lemony, it’s especially good with chicken. Although we get our supply from family in the West Bank, I know Penzey’s makes a blend that looks good. Already-blended Za’atar is just as good as homemade!

  • http://coachlisab.blogspot.com Lisa B.

    Thanks for some new ideas for zaatar. I have a couple of different blends, but I can never think of anything to do with it besides put it on flatbread with yogurt or goat cheese. I’m going to try it sprinkled over lentil soup next.

  • http://esterkitchen.canalblog.com Ester

    Magic wand is the perfect word to describe zaatar ! Thank you for having notice my onion-zaatar addictive tart !

  • http://www.eatdrinklive.typepad.com Laura

    I had found zaatar lurking in another recipe, but because I would have to get it mail-order, I needed more than one reason for using it so as not to feel guilty about it losing all it’s potency in the back of the cupboard. So thanks for all the ideas!

  • littlewaffle

    mmm time to make some homemade pita – which is suprisingly simple and turns out smashingly delicious. in case you want to try it – and you should! – here’s a great recipe from the farmgirl fare blog.

  • http://www.tulci.com Anjali

    thanks clotilde! no wonder i couldn’t figure out where the missing recipe was and said! love your blog!!

  • http://www.ifoods.blogspot.com niall

    Well i must say you have done it again another original recipe. I love the originality of this blog, too many people repriducing the same stuff that chefs have been producing for years. I really do believe most food blogs are pretty poor with the exception of yours and maybe 3 others! One of them being mine of course! Please do keep up the good work as my clients are enjoying all the fruits of your hard work!!

  • Eva

    Hi Clotilde,
    I’ve been visiting your blog for over a year now. Great recepies.
    I loved your pitas with zaatar. I never thought of it al though i’m Lebanese.
    If you realy love zaatar try to mix it with “labneh” a kind of lebanese “fromage blanc” you will surely find it a Massis Bleue, add a bit of olive oil diced cucumber and tomato (tomato shouldn’t be soft). Mix all together. Just dip in the pita like you do with nachos and dips. Enjoy it, it’s tasty and healthy.
    Eva.

  • http://www.greentea-blog.com/ GreenTeaBlog

    I’ve been to that terrific little restaurant in Berkeley called Zatar. Find some real treasures there, indeed.. Love Zaatar !!!

  • andy chef

    hi,I think in eygpt they call it d’ukkah this sounds the same my friend from jordan brought me some back in a jar I think he called it zatar as well.kevin gould’s cookbook ”loving&cooking with reckless abandon” gives a recipe for d’ukkah
    350g sesame seeds
    250gcoriander seeds
    120g shelledhazelnuts
    120g ground cumin
    120g za’atar(wild thyme-dried thyme or oregano
    2 teaspoon coarse salt 1 teaspoon coarse blackpepper
    dry fry all ing. seperately grind down in a large pestle and mortar or bowl or smash them in a tea towel

  • andychef

    you can order in england dukkah and other really good spice mixes from http://www.sambavaspices.com
    the recipe above makes rather a lot by the way so halve or quarter the amounts its great on potato wedges

  • http://www.badhomecooking.typepad.com/bad_home_cooking/ Bad Home Cook

    Gad that sounds delicious. I’m tempted to venture making some myself…but nah. Better not. Probably safest to go to my local Lebanese rest. tonight and see if I can’t find some to buy…
    Thanks for putting delicious thoughts into my head.

  • Nicole

    You can buy a good zatar mix at http://www.buylebanese.com – buy the zatar baladi, not the other ones. To the person looking for sumac, you can buy it there too. They ship all over the world from Lebanon. I’ve bought sweets there in the past and they come from one of the best bakeries in Lebanon.

  • TJ

    To the Americans reading this: if there’s a Middle Eastern grocery in your city/town, you can surely get za’atar there. You could probably also find really good pita there, and maybe some halloumi cheese (from Cyprus, try grilling it over medium heat in a skillet) – and you’d be supporting a local business!

  • Jan Gilbert

    Okay, I’m in. Amazon says the book will be shipped May 15, and Penzeys says the zaatar will go out the end of the week. I have read your blog for several months and really enjoy it. Your lamb shoulder with flageolets brought back a Proustian madeline-type moment for me. I had a similar lamb and bean dish in the restaurant at, I believe, the Bon Marche in Paris, over 30 years ago, and I have tried unsuccessfully to duplicate it since. You may have hit on it. I’ll try again with your recipe. Best of luck in your writing, although I believe you have made your own luck with your enthusiasm, curiosity and intelligence. Happy cooking.

    Jan Gilbert
    Savannah, Georgia USA

  • http://www.wowgold-sale.com/ fsdfsdfsrfgrAdministrator
  • http://www.epfdp.net Paul

    My first meeting with zatar : zatar croissants, ubiquitous in bahrain and saudi arabia.
    Croissants are oily and stale, and zatar has a dusty flavor…
    Havint read your post, I’ll go on a mission to find an edible zatar and report back

  • Katie

    Hi Clotilde!
    Just a quick question, can these be made in advance? I am having a party on Saturday and want to get ahead…could I make them today already??
    Thanks in advance,
    Katie xx

  • Pippart

    I am very sad to say that I went to the Massis Bleue today and discovered, to my horror, that it has transformed itself into a G20 supermarket. This is a sad day for all Parisians. Forunately Hératchian is a few streets away, but I now wonder how long it will be before that gem disappears as well…

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