What’s this bright spice, you ask?
Often used in Mediterranean recipes, sumac is actually a berry, and it grows on bushes mainly in southern Italy and the Middle East. It is usually dried and sold whole, or dried then ground into a reddish-purple powder.
How does it taste?
It’s bright, lemony, fruity, and totally refreshing. It is often used to flavor meats and salads in Middle Eastern cuisine, and as a garnish in Arab cuisine. In Iranian cuisine, it is typically added to rice and kebabs.
There isn’t anything quite like it, although if you really had to, you could substitute lemon juice in its place. You can use it to flavor whatever you think needs a more acidic flavor, but it goes best with meat (especially gamey red meats like lamb), salad, grilled vegetables, and as garnishes for dips and rice.
Where can it be purchased?
Sumac can’t be found at most grocery stores, but you should be able to find it in gourmet shops like Williams-Sonoma and Dean & Deluca. Likely, you’ll find it ground, and it’ll be best stored like your other spices - in an airtight container, away from light and heat, at room temperature or cooler.
Want to add sumac to your meals? Try this Sumac-Spiced Chickpea and Black Bean Salad!
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