"I need to eat Irani kebab" that was precisely the first thing I demanded to eat when I landed in Kuwait to live with M. I had spend three years of graduation in India only imagining Arabic food. Four years since, my love for kebabs has not reduced one tiny bit, but my appreciation for salads have grown many folds.
Beyond the scrumptious kebabs, cheesy breads and cheesy desserts, what I also love is Arabic spices. But lets talk carrots first. Its not that I'm new to carrot but in recent years, they have found a way back into our lives like never before. Our lunch boxes often have a side of fresh baby carrots, a favorite snack on go. Other than eating this little beauties raw, roasting is the second best way to eat them. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of carrots and being mild in taste, they absorb the flavors from spices rather well.
Sumac is one of my favorite Middle Eastern spice, used like how mango powder is used in Indian cooking. Being tart it is often used as a souring agent and as condiment much like salt and pepper. If you haven't tried sumac yet, I highly recommend you do, you would want to sprinkle it on everything bland!
Zaatar are of many types and I have seen so many varieties sold just as 'zaatar'. The more commonly known form of zaatar is the dry spice mix which consist of dry zaatar, sesame seeds and sumac. The one used for the spice mix is strong in flavor and has mint like leaves. Zaatar I use in this salad, scientifically known as thymbra spicata, has a milder taste. I tried to roast the carrots with the leaves but found that they loose their flavor but add a great bite when raw.
Sumac Roasted Carrots, Fresh Zaatar, Tomatoes and Feta Salad
For sumac roasted carrots
10 baby carrots
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sumac spice
1 tsp cumin seeds, coarsely grounded
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup feta cheese, cubed
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 cup daikon radishes, sliced
Handful of zaatar leaves *
* This variety is a local seasonal one. I find it tastes more like fresh oregano than thyme so you could probably substitute with fresh oregano and thyme.
Preheat the oven at 200 C. Mix olive oil, sumac, cumin, salt and pepper. Toss the carrots with the oil. Bake on baking sheet for about 20 minutes until tender.
Mix with rest of the ingredients. Adjust the salt and pepper if required. Sprinkle with more sumac if you like.