Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi and his Palestinian business partner and co-chef Sami Tamimi have encouraged a love of sumac, shakshuka and za'atar in Western Europe in recent years with their London cafés and evocative cookbooks. This week, we've taken inspiration from them by making fragrantly spiced flatbread and delicious braised eggs.
(makes 3 flatbreads)
You can buy ready-made za'atar in large supermarkets and specialist shops. But that's nowhere near as fun as making your own.
For the flatbread
250g strong bread flour
1/2 teaspoon of quick yeast
Pinch of salt
150g of warm water
For the za'atar
4 tablespoons of sumac (a dried, crushed berry widely available thanks to Yotam and Sami)
3 tablespoons of dried mixed herbs
3 tablespoons of dried oregano
2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of sea salt
8 tablespoons of olive or rapeseed oil
1. Sieve the flour into a large bowl and add the yeast and salt. Mix well before adding the water. Mix until a dough forms.
2. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for five minutes until smooth. Put your dough into a lightly oiled bowl and set aside, covered, for 30 minutes.
3. Make the za'atar flatbread topping by mixing together the dry ingredients with the oil. Combine well and set aside.
4. Pre-heat your oven to its highest heat. Put sunflower oil on a large baking tray and put it in the oven until very hot.
5. Meanwhile, cut your flatbread dough into three pieces and roll out into three flat circles. Transfer carefully to your very hot baking tray.
6. Spread the za'atar mix thinly over the bases - about two tablespoons of the mix per base should do it - and return to the oven.
7. Cook for about eight minutes, until the flatbread is golden and the za'atar is sizzling.
Za'atar is one of the most transportive spice mixes out there. One sniff of this sumac, dried herb and sesame seed mix and you'll feel like you're in the souks of the Middle East.