Zatar is a Middle Eastern spice mix, used extensively in different dishes. The most common ones are Zatar bread, and as a dip for bread and olive oil. Its absolutely delicious. Its a mix of sumac, thyme and sesame seeds, but as with all mixes, you can add ingredients and subtract as you desire. The first three are the base though. Here's a great resource for home-made Zatar. Please read here for lots of lovely information.
It's sort of like crushed red pepper or Italian seasoning - it's one of those mixes that you can add to anything and it only enhances the flavor. By itself, its pretty mild, and so you need to add a lot to get a Zatar flavor.
I used it in three ways and made a platter.
1. Roasted Potatoes
Take a handful of new potatoes and cut them into halves or quarters (peel them if you prefer - I like the potatoes with the skin on). If you don't have new potatoes, you could also cut large potatoes into matchsticks or like french fries. Combine with a tbsp of olive oil, some salt and pepper, and 2 tbsp of Zatar. Pop them in the oven for about 45 minutes at 175 deg C. Toss them around every 10-15 minutes to avoid having to scrape them off the pan in the end!
2. Roasted Carrots with Feta Cheese
Peel and cut about 3-4 carrots into matchsticks. Toss them with olive oil, salt (don't use too much salt, since the cheese is also salty), pepper and Zatar. Put them in an oven for about 20-25 minutes at 175 deg C. Remember to toss these around too, every 10 minutes, else they stick to the pan. Once done, take them out and crumble the feta on top.
3. Cherry Tomatoes with Feta Cheese
Cut the delicious cherry tomatoes in halves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and Zatar. Again, don't use too much salt. Crumble the feta on the tomatoes.
All of them were really good. But the roasted carrots were my favorite - the saltiness of the cheese and the sweetness of the carrots was fabulous with the crunchy Zatar.
So, Siri, my fellow Marathoner, this is especially for your Middle Eastern event - I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. The AWED event series was started by another Marathoner, Dhivya.
For the Chennai folks: Nope, you don't get Zatar here. I had a friend mail it to me from Dubai! Sorry. The Feta and cherry tomatoes are from Nilgiris.