Posted by: edibleplanet | September 16, 2009

Why is sumac so good?

Mmmmmm sumac...

Mmmmmm sumac...

Until a few years ago, I was completely ignorant of this wonderful red powder. Sumac is made from the ground berries of a shrub (Rhus coriaria) and features a lot in Middle Eastern cuisine. The spice is used in several different ways, but it has a tangy, almost lemon-zest flavour so it can be used as a souring agent (much as we use lemon juice). Sumac works perfectly with meat because the sourness is accompanied by a nice, fruity, berry flavour. I often mix it in with marinades instead of lemon juice, before tossing the meat onto the barbie. It’s subtle enough not to overpower chicken, but it stands up pretty well with stronger flavours like lamb too. It can be sprinkled as a garnish onto hummus and other dips, it can even be used in place of lemon zest to give a different, but equally wonderful result .

Good sumac can be hard to track down. You are looking for a nice, dark red colour, rather than a brown and the sumac should have a fruity, berry smell. When you taste it, it should deliver way more than just a sour or salty taste (salt is used in the processing of sumac).

Find some, and start playing around with it in your kitchen. Sumac is really good!




  1. Great blog. Beautifully written. Your shop in Ilam needs to get rid of the new paint smell and replace it with something tantalising like fresh coffee or bread.

  2. Will work on a tantalising smell – thanks for the tip 😉

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