By Chef Lippe
Traditionally, zaatar is mixed with olive oil and baked on a flat bread for breakfast in the Middle East. Zaatar is believed to help keep the mind alert and the body strong. I have made party meat balls and served it with a Greek cucumber yogurt dip called Tzarziki.
Zaatar is a spice mix which includes a mixture of sumac, thyme, sesame seeds, some mixes also include marjoram, oregano, coriander, fennel and cumin. Zaatar is not a strong spice but has a nice lemon tang from the sumac. Zaatar Meatballs served either warm or room temperature with the Greek yogurt dip called tzarziki make a nice summer party appetizer. Zaatar is not a strong spice, but it has a nice tang from the sumac.
1 pound ground lamb (can substitute ground turkey or beef)
4 tablespoons bread crumbs
1/2 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 teaspoons zaatar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients and mix gently. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or longer) to allow flavors to meld. Make small meatballs about 1” in diameter. Heat ½ cup water in deep saucepan and gently place meatballs in pan, cook until water is evaporated, turning meatballs after a few minutes to color all sides. While meatballs are cooking heat oil in a skillet, remove meatballs from water and brown and cook through in hot oil.
For a fancy party skewer a fresh mint leave and meatball and arrange on platter around a bowl of tzatziki sauce to use for dipping.
Tzatzki Dipping sauce (make in the morning or day before)
4 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled and coarsely grated
4 cloves of garlic crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon dill weed
Place a piece of cheesecloth in a colander and pour in the yogurt, allow to drain for several hours. Mix in grated cucumber and allow to drain for a few more hours. Mix in garlic, olive oil and dill and refrigerate until needed. This will keep well for 2 or 3 days if stored in a covered dish in the refrigerator.