January 25, 2010

Za’atar (Thyme)

Thyme or Za'atar

"Thyme "or"Za'atar" (in Arabic language) is commonly used for culinary and medicinal purposes in the Arab world. It is used as filling for Arab Bread(Fata-ar) and as a Herbal medicine. Olive oil is the best combination of Za'atar for adding taste. Ground Dried Za'atar mixed with Sesame seeds and fresh leaves also available in the Arab market. For more informations scroll down………..

Wait for another post for more recipes with Za'atar (Thyme filling).

Arab Breakfast or Fata-er with Thyme Filling

Common thyme, Thymus vulgaris

Dried thyme.
Za'atar or Thyme powder available in Kuwait

Thyme (pronounced /ˈtaɪm/) is a well known herb; in common usage the name may refer to

  • any or all members of the plant genus
  • Common thyme, Thymus vulgaris, and some other species that are used as culinary herbs or for medicinal purposes.

Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing that thyme was a source of courage. It was thought that the spread of thyme throughout Europe was thanks to the Romans, as they used it to purify their rooms and to "give an aromatic flavour to cheese and liqueurs".In the European Middle Ages, the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. In this period, women would also often give knights and warriors gifts that included thyme leaves as it was believed to bring courage to the bearer. Thyme was also used as incense and placed on coffins during funerals as it was supposed to assure passage into the next life. [


Thyme is widely cultivated for its strong flavor, which is due to its content of thymol.

Thyme is best cultivated in a hot sunny location with well drained soil. It is generally planted in the spring and thereafter grows as a perennial. It can be propagated by seed, cuttings, or by dividing rooted sections of the plant. It tolerates drought well. The plants can take deep freezes and are found growing wild on mountain highlands [

Thyme retains its flavor on drying better than many other herbs.

Culinary use

Thyme is a good source of iron and is widely used in cooking. The herb is a basic ingredient in Macedonian, Lebanese, Italian, French, Albanian, Persian, Portuguese, Libyan, Spanish, Greek, Syrian, and Turkish cuisines, and in those derived from them. It is also widely used in Arab and Caribbean cuisines.

Thyme is often used to flavour meats, soups and stews. It has a particular affinity to and is often used as a primary flavour with lamb, tomatoes and eggs.

Thyme, while flavourful, does not overpower and blends well with other herbs and spices. In some Levantine countries, the condiment za'atar (Arabic for thyme) contains thyme as a vital ingredient. It is a common component of the bouquet garni, and of herbes de Provence.

Thyme is sold both fresh and dried. The fresh form is more flavourful but also less convenient; storage life is rarely more than a week. While summer-seasonal, fresh thyme is often available year-round.

Fresh thyme is commonly sold in bunches of sprigs. A sprig is a single stem snipped from the plant. It is composed of a woody stem with paired leaf or flower clusters ("leaves") spaced ½ to 1" apart. A recipe may measure thyme by the bunch (or fraction thereof), or by the sprig, or by the tablespoon or teaspoon. If the recipe does not specify fresh or dried, assume that it means fresh.

Depending on how it is used in a dish, the whole sprig may be used (e.g. in a bouquet garni), or the leaves removed and the stems discarded. Usually when a recipe specifies 'bunch' or 'sprig' it means the whole form; when it specifies spoons it means the leaves. It is perfectly acceptable to substitute dried for whole thyme.

Leaves may be removed from stems either by scraping with the back of a knife, or by pulling through the fingers or tines of a fork. Leaves are often chopped.

Thyme retains its flavour on drying better than many other herbs. As usual with dried herbs less of it is required when substituted in a recipe. As a rule of thumb, use one third as much dried as fresh thyme - a little less if it is ground. Substitution is often more complicated than that because recipes can specify sprigs and sprigs can vary in yield of leaves. Assuming a 4" sprig (they are often somewhat longer), estimate that 6 sprigs will yield one tablespoon of leaves. The dried equivalent is 1:3, so substitute 1 teaspoon of dried or ¾ tsp of ground thyme for 6 small sprigs.

As with bay, thyme is slow to release its flavours so it is usually added early in the cooking process.

Medicinal use

The essential oil of common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is made up of 20-54% thymol. Thymol, an antiseptic, is the main active ingredient in Listerine mouthwash. Before the advent of modern antibiotics, it was used to medicate bandages. It has also been shown to be effective against the fungus that commonly infects toenails.

A tea made by infusing the herb in water can be used for cough and bronchitis. Medicinally thyme is used for respiratory infections in the form of a tincture, tisane, salve, syrup or by steam inhalation Because it is antiseptic, thyme boiled in water and cooled is very effective against inflammation of the throat when gargled 3 times a day. The inflammation will normally disappear in 2 – 5 days. The thymol and other volatile components in the leaf glands are excreted via the lungs, being highly lipid-soluble, where it reduces the viscosity of the mucus and exerts its antimicrobial action. Other infections and wounds can be dripped with thyme that has been boiled in water and cooled.

In traditional Jamaican childbirth practice, thyme tea is given to the mother after delivery of the babyIts oxytocin-like effect causes uterine contractions and more rapid delivery of the placenta but this was said by Sheila Kitzinger to cause an increased prevalence of retained placenta.

Important species

Thymus vulgaris (Common Thyme or Garden Thyme) is a commonly used culinary herb. It also has medicinal uses. Common thyme is a Mediterranean perennial which is best suited to well-drained soils and enjoys full sun.

Thymus herba-barona (Caraway Thyme) is used both as a culinary herb and a groundcover, and has a very strong caraway scent due to the chemical carvone.

Thymus × citriodorus (Citrus Thyme; hybrid T. pulegioides × T. vulgaris) is also a popular culinary herb, with cultivars selected with aromas of various citrus fruit (lemon thyme, etc.)

Thymus pseudolanuginosus (Woolly Thyme) is not a culinary herb, but is grown as a ground cover.

Thymus serpyllum (Wild Thyme) is an important nectar source plant for honeybees. All thyme species are nectar sources, but wild thyme covers large areas of droughty, rocky soils in southern Europe (Greece is especially famous for wild thyme honey) and North Africa, as well as in similar landscapes in the Berkshire Mountains and Catskill Mountains of the northeastern US.

Popular cultivars

Variegated lemon thyme.

There are a number of different cultivars of thyme with established or growing popularity, including:

  • English thyme—the most common
  • Lemon thyme—smells of lemons
  • Variegated lemon thyme—with bi-colour leaves
  • Orange thyme—an unusually low-growing, ground cover thyme that smells like orange
  • Creeping thyme—the lowest-growing of the widely used thyme, good for walkways
  • Silver thyme—white/cream variegate
  • Summer thyme—unusually strong flavour
  • Caribbean thyme—Same flavor as English thyme but 10 times stronger.

January 16, 2010

Damascus Rose

Damascus Rose or Vard Damaski
This Dry flower called Damascus flower or Vard Damashki  I am using for garnishing coffee sweets ( Hallu Gawa). Arab people are using this as a Herbal medicine by boiling in water and drinking.Thats only I heard from Arabs. For the rest of the informations Thanks to” Wikipedia”

Rosa × damascena, more commonly known as the Damask rose or simply as "Damask", or sometimes as the Rose of Castile, is a rose hybrid, derived from Rosa gallica and Rosa moschata (Huxley 1992). Further DNA analysis has shown that a third species, Rosa fedtschenkoana, is associated with the Damask rose (Harkness 2003). The Damask rose is commonly used to flavor food and to make rose water

Description and history
The Damask Rose is a deciduous shrub growing to 2.2 metres (7 ft 3 in) tall, the stems densely armed with stout, curved prickles and stiff bristles. The leaves are pinnate, with five (rarely seven) leaflets. It is considered an important type of Old Rose, also for their prominent place in the pedigree of many other types. They are renowned for their fine fragrance, and their flowers are commercially harvested for rose oil used in perfumery. The perfume industry often refers to this rose as the Damascus rose.
Rosa × damascena Rosa damascena Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae

Division: Magnoliophyta                                              
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Rosa
Species: R. × damascena
Binomial name Rosa × damascena

The Crusader Robert de Brie is sometimes given credit for bringing them from Persia to Europe sometime between 1254 and 1276. The name refers to Damascus, Syria a major city in the region. Other stories say the Romans brought the rose to England, and a third account is says that the Henry VIII's physician gave him a Damask rose, as a present, around 1540.[1]
The hybrid is divided in two varieties (Huxley 1992):
  • Summer Damasks (R. × damascena nothovar. damascena) have a short flowering season, only in the summer.
  • Autumn Damasks (R. × damascena nothovar. semperflorens (Duhamel) Rowley) have a longer flowering season, extending into the autumn; they are otherwise not distinguishable from the summer damasks.
A still popular example of R. × damascena is the Ispahan rose. The hybrid Rosa × centifolia is derived in part from Rosa × damascena
Culinary uses
Damascus roses are used in cooking as a flavouring ingredient or spice. It appears as one of the ingredients in the Moroccan spice mixture known as ras el hanout. Rose water and powdered roses are used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. Rose water is often sprinkled on many meat dishes, while rose powder is added to sauces. The most popular use, however, is in the flavoring of deserts such as ice cream, jam, turkish delights, rice pudding, yogurt and etc. Chicken with rose is a popular dish in Persian cuisine. Western cookery today does not make much use of rose or rose water. However it was a popular ingredient in ancient times and continued to be popular well into the Renaissance. In the west, it was most commonly used in deserts. Many traditional deserts in Europe, however, still make use of roses, such as Marzipan or Turrón.

January 12, 2010

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