What is sumac?
This wine-coloured ground spice is one of the most useful but least known and most underappreciated. Made from dried berries, it has an appealing lemon-lime tartness that can be widely used. In Iran, they use it as a condiment, putting it onto the table with salt and pepper. You can try this yourself and it will complement most dishes.
Using sumac instead of lemon juice or zest immediately enhances dishes, giving a fascinating and exotic twist. Fish, poultry and vegetable dishes all spring to life in a new way. Simply sprinkle over yogurt as a dip, too.
How to cook with sumac
The flavour of sumac is so universally appealing that it’s hard to go wrong. Add it to salad dressings or the salads themselves, in fact, add it wherever you would use lemon or lime. It’s great on fried fish and on the chips too, rice dishes, and Middle Eastern fare such as hummus, bean or chickpea salads. It’s a great lifter of sandwich fillings and something as simple as cheddar and sumac is a winning combination. Sumac is not usually cooked with but can be and its reduced flavour brought to life by serving the dish with more sumac to sprinkle.
Give your roast chicken a flavour of the middle east with our chicken with lemons, sumac and spiced yoghurt. Baked feta with sumac and grapes is an easy but impressive starter, it’s cheap to throw together, too. Spice up your sweet potato wedges with sumac, rosemary and thyme. These would go well with grilled chicken, salmon or alongside falafel wraps.
How to store sumac
Keep cool, sealed and and in a dark place.
How to buy sumac
Buy only in sealed containers and in small quantities.
Increasingly available in grocery shops and online.