Zaatar is the Arabic word of thyme, it is a wild herb that grows throughout hills and fields of the Levant and East Mediterranean regions. Zaatar has become (along with olive tree) a symbol of the land of Palestine. It is strongly associated with the Palestinian identity that it’s being widely adopted by poets, writers and artists in their writings and songs.
Zaatar bread also known as “fatayer fallahi” which means villagers’ pie, is a typical Palestinian pastry mostly made in spring, which is the official season of collecting fresh wild thyme. It is a flat bread, oily but crunchy, stuffed with fresh zaatar leaves, onions and sumac.
Personally, I’m in a never-ending romantic relationship with zaatar bread! Smelling the scent of baking bread mixed with the aroma of roasting thyme greased with olive oil, is where the romance starts over again every time…
- Dough Ingredients:
- 3 cups white flour
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Filling Ingredients:
- 2 to 3 cups fresh zaatar leaves (thyme), washed thoroughly
- 1 medium size onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
For the Dough: In a medium size bowl, combine flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil. Rub the mixture together until oil is well combined into the flour. Add one cup of warm water gradually while kneading using one hand (add more water if the dough is dry or flour if it is too sticky).Cover the bowel with a plastic bag and place it in a warm place for about 30 to 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
For the Filling: Meanwhile, in another bowl, combine zaatar (thyme) leaves, chopped onions, sumac, salt, and olive oil. Mix all together and leave aside.
Cut off the dough to form three or four balls. Roll each of them on a soft surface which is greased with olive oil using rolling pin until you make a paper-thin sheet of dough. Another option is to use your hands to punch down the dough until it becomes very thin that you can’t punch it further (don’t worry if the dough ends up with some holes).
Add a pinch of zaatar stuffing and a pinch of olive oil to the dough sheet, fold two sides of the dough to the middle. Add another pinch of zaatar stuffing and fold the dough. Keep adding pinch of zaatar and folding the dough until you can’t fold it further. (The photos should explain the process better). Leave them for 10 minutes to rest.
Place stuffed dough pieces in an oven tray greased with olive oil. Punch dough down with your hands until flat. Place the tray in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until they become slightly brown or golden. Flip them to the other side and leave them for another 5 minutes. It’s better to be served hot to enjoy the crunchiness of the bread. Typically served with fresh yogurt or tea.