Friday, February 5, 2010

New Ingredient: Sumac

Very common in Middle Eastern cuisine, in it's ground form, it adds a great lemony flavor to your dish.  It's rich color also makes for nice presentation when sprinkled on top.  Prior to lemons, Romans actually used this as a souring agent.  I had never given this spice much attention until my friend Kelly expressed her undying love for the purple powder.  I figured that I must be missing out and I sure was! 

Using sumac, I made a tangy spice rub for my grilled chicken and served it on top of a funky salad.  Turned out great and was the perfect dish for a hot summer day!  Healthy too ;)

Sumac-rubbed Chicken


4 chicken breasts
3 tbsp sumac
3 garlic cloves crushed
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 can chickpeas
1 cucumber, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 chili, finely chopped
1 handful arugula (rocket)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 


1. In large plastic bag, combine chicken and all ingredients for the marinade.  Marinate atleast 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
2. For salad, combine all ingredients through arugula.  For dressing, whisk lemon juice and sugar together.  Gradually add olive oil while whisking to emulsify.  Combine dressing and salad and season to taste.
3. Grill the chicken over medium high heat 4-5 minutes on each side until cook through. Slice and serve over salad.  Enjoy!


  1. I just bought a packet of this last week to make fattoush salad...definitely VERY tangy and a great spice to work with! Will definitely try this recipe out!

  2. What is fattoush salad? Maybe we can exchange recipes :)

  3. Fattoush is a popular lebanese salad that incorporates fresh pita chips, mint, parsley, and of course sumac (among many other things). Enjoy!

    Fattoush Salad

    2-4 whole wheat pitas, cut into strips or triangles

    3 cloves of minced (almost pureed) garlic – do this in a mortal-pestle or with the side of a knife
    1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, about 2 lemons
    1 tsp Sumac, plus more for sprinkling on individual salads if desired)
    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

    1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
    1/4 cup sliced green onion
    1 cup tomatoes, diced seeded
    1 cup cucumber, diced seeded
    1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
    1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

    Preheat oven to 400F. Brush pitas with olive oil, sprinkle with some coarse salt and pop in the oven until very crisp (like a chip consistency) – about 10 minutes or so – make sure they don’t burn!.

    Dressing: Whisk together garlic paste, lemon juice, olive oil and sumac. Whisk in olive oil and set dressing aside. Season with a dash of salt as well.

    Tear romaine into small bite sized pieces and mix together with tomato and cucumber and the rest of the salad ingredients. Add some of the dressing, and toss until lightly coated. Break up the pita chips and toss into salad, and add more dressing until everything is lightly coated, or to your desire! It’s ok for this salad to be dressing-y! Let salad sit for a few minutes before serving to let flavours meld. Feel free to sprinkle a little sumac on top when serving.

    I don’t love romaine in particular, so I like it a little less lettucy than most, but you can adjust as you want!



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