Tuesday 13 October 2015


I recall the remarkable thyme-like smell as I walked in the south Hebron hills a couple of years ago. One of the shepherds picked some of the wild herb and gave it to me - "Za'atar" he said. He had tears in his eyes as he told me he was about to lose his home and was facing eviction by the Israeli colonists from land to which he had title that had been his home,his father's and his grandfather's and in his family's ownership since the days of the Ottoman Empire.

My recollection of that day is published by Labour2Palestine.

Za'atar is a thyme like herb growing wild throughout Palestine and Lebanon and is often served with flatbread and olive oil or yoghurt or with the traditional salad, fattoush.  Za'atar is the name given to the fresh herb itself, but is also used to describe a mixture of the dried herb or thyme mixed with sesame seeds and sumac which is now available widely in the UK. It is worth doing a search to find recipes for using Za'atar. It's good with roast chicken for example or roast butternut squash, with aubergines or chickpea salad ...

When I lived in south east London I could buy Za'atar at Turkish, Middle eastern or North African stores. Now I am living in Hove, I am fortunate to have two very good grocery stores a short distance away in Portslade almost next door to each other

John Austin
October 2015

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