27 February, 2023
What Are The Best Middle Eastern Spices To Use in Your Everyday Food in Sydney

One thing to take away from Middle Eastern food is the masterful use of spices in almost every dish. In Sydney, many restaurants use these spices to inject their food with Middle Eastern flavour and flair. Depending on the dish, different spices can bring warmth, zest, heat and tang. At Zahli, traditional Middle Eastern spices are used in all of our dishes, ensuring that with every bite, your taste buds are taken on a wild and delicious ride. As food is extremely important in Middle Eastern culture, it’s no surprise that our chefs take the seasoning of their food very seriously. Traditional, age-old spices and flavours are now being used in some of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in the Sydney CBD, including Zahli.

As with every cuisine, you can learn from Middle Eastern food. It may be hard to replicate dishes at home, however, you can infuse your everyday cooking with some of the flavours of Middle Eastern food. Many of the spices used in Middle Eastern food can and are used in different cuisines around the world, including Australian. We love celebrating the beauty of Middle Eastern spices. There’s no better way to do it than to encourage people to use it in their everyday cooking. In this article, we’ll discuss what are the best Middle Eastern spices to use in your cooking.

5 Middle Eastern spices to use in your everyday food


Sumac is a bright red spice that is used in marinades, vinaigrettes and dry rubs on chicken and fish, but is best used with fatty meats like lamb and beef. However, one of its best uses is being sprinkled over food before serving. It has a slightly bitter, tart and zesty flavour profile, very similar to that of lemon zest. Sumac can be substituted in recipes that call for lemon zest to add that punch of brightness. In everyday cooking, sumac can be sprinkled over eggs, used to season meats, used as garnish over vegetables and even paired with delicate desserts and sweet snacks like shortbread and tarts.


Cumin is used in a few different cuisines like Mexican and Indian but is also heavily used in Middle Eastern cooking. Cumin is warm, earthy and very distinct. With a strong flavour profile and even more pungent aroma, it’s great for dishes that require a lot of flavour. In Middle Eastern cuisine, cumin is used to season falafel and hommos. However, it is the perfect spice for seasoning meats as they can stand up to the strong flavour of the cumin. Cumin is a great spice for other dishes as well. It pairs well with stews, soups and root vegetables like sweet potatoes. 


Another spice that’s seen in other cuisines, cardamom, can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes. Cardamom is a warm spice with floral, sweet and pine notes. Like cumin, it is incredibly fragrant and can be described as earthy, sweet and a little spicy. Cardamom is used in Arabic and Turkish coffee and can be found in rice pudding, baklava and halwa. Outside of Middle Eastern cuisines, cardamom can be used to flavour almost any dessert, muffins, rice dishes tea or coffee. Be careful how you use cardamom as just a tiny bit packs a strong punch of flavour.


Za’atar is one of the most popular spice blends in Middle Eastern cuisine. The highly fragrant spice mixture is a combination of sesame seeds, dried oregano, thyme and sumac. It is tangy, zesty and earthy – perfect for rubbing on meats or sprinkling onto man’oushe and Middle Eastern salads like fattoush. This versatile spice blend can easily find its way into your cooking. Sprinkle it onto your eggs, salads, roasted vegetables and meats. It’s extremely easy to incorporate and will promise an explosion of flavour. 


Anise is a uniquely flavoured spice. It is slightly sweet, spicy and bitter, reminiscent of liquorice. It’s the primary ingredient in the popular Lebanese drink, Arak, and the traditional anise biscuit, kaak be-yansoon. Anise can be added to almost any baked good, fruit jams or jellies and meats. It also works extremely well with chocolate.

We hope that this article helps you to expand the spices that you have at home and to diversify your everyday cooking. We promise that you’ll love every one of these ingredients! If you are interested in indulging in authentic Middle-Eastern food then Zahli, Modern Middle Eastern restaurant can gladly provide a memorable meal. Zahli is here to provide you with a culinary experience like no other. Call us on (02) 9318 2228 to reserve a table or for pick-up orders.