Arabian Twist Recipe Contest

It was a rainy tuesday noght when I came across the note on Facebook about a revipe writing contest.
The challenge was to create a recipe with any middle eastern ingredient and find out why it makes a difference. I was having a lits of zataar in stock and some ideas pouring in to me which I quickly tried out on Wednesday the 30th of October.  Clicking from everyside using my brothers dslr as an amateur food photographer I was keen on taking a perfect image.

On the 31st of October late in the evening I posted the document with my recipe and images.

Eagerly waiting for a winner to be announced with fingers crossed if I will be able to win Suzanne Hussains cook book “when Suzanne cooks”.
It was again a Wednesday night, rainy with lightning when I checked my bligs email and found a message from the recipe contest host starting with congratulations. My heart was beating and I was overwhelmed with joy and full of smiles.
We can lways buy a recipe book which can be affordable at times but when o
You win a book its something special.  Words can never describe the joy of winning a book. When the book you won is something you’ve wanted in a ling time the happiness is double with the relief on thinking that “its great you dint buy when you felt like it ” which would have made your house with two books of the same sort. Let alone the second hand book stores where you might be able to sell one if there is any spare books.
So am now a few mikes off fron being the owner of when Suzanne cook’s.
I can wait to try the recipes fron the book.


The contest on facebook.


The book I won.


The most awaited email.

A link to my recipe is found below or search for zataar keema pizaa on my search bar –



Zataar keema pizza


Arabian cuisine has always encouraged me to try new dishes. Zataar was introduced to me through manakish at man2ooshe and I fell in love with the spice. As I saw the zataar on display at Carrefour I quickly grabbed a little and came home. Once I was home I started to stumble online for recipes and finally decided to introduce the zataar with meat to my Sri Lankan family. Usually a keema is done with a mix of various spices but I got a delicious keema with just only zataar and pepper powder. I myself am really amazed how the Arabian flavor has enhanced the keema curry with the help of those dried herbs and sumac. This experiment has encouraged me to try new recipes using zataar.


Pizza Dough


3 cups flour
Salt to taste
2 teaspoon olive oil or margarine
2 teaspoon yeast
Water as required


Mix all ingredients together and knead into a smooth and soft dough.
Leave aside to rise for an hour.
Roll into a flat circle and place on a tray.

Meat keema


1 cup meat

1 medium onion (chopped)

1 teaspoon crushed pepper
2 teaspoon zataar spice
2 teaspoon zataar with sumac
Salt to taste
1tablesoon olive oil or melted butter


Cheddar for topping


Clean, wash and boil the meat.
Sauté meat and onions in a pan over high heat with teaspoon of olive oil or margarine

Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the two zataar mixes.
Spread over the prepared dough.

Grate and sprinkle cheddar cheese on top and bake at 150 degrees C for 20 minutes on a pre heated oven.

My images



zataar keema topped

zataar keema topped



cheessy on top ofkeema

cheessy on top of keema






Two types of zataar spice

Zataar is a middle eastern spice. Its a kind of herb basically from the herb family of oregano, basil etc. Zataar is dried and made into a spice mix with sesame seeds, salt and some spices.
A zataar thats reddish brown in color is due to the sumac (dried red berry powder)
A friend on fooderati arabia educated me on this topic.
The green zataar is mild in taste where as the red zataar is a bit in sweet side according to myself.




Food story : Zataar for the first time

My first time using zataar was an unforgettable experience.
I forgot to add olive oil and salt to the zataar mixture and added onmy water. It tasted ok to me yet for the srilankan taste bud it was an unpalatable taste.
My family in srilanka who tasted zataar for the first time just didn’t like it due to my forgetful mistake.

first impression is the best impression

How true are these proverbs.
The second time I made the zataar keema pizza my sisters lost their appetite and dint wanna taste it.
Just to please me they tasted a slice and to my dismay there was extra salt in it.

Learning from mistakes

I added extra salt to boil the beef and in a hurry made the keema mixture in the same pan.

Always read the recipe of even the simplest dish your gonna try just before yourl start. Thats something I dint do before starting my zataar manakish recipe.

Points to remember

Always make sure you use a seperate pan to make your filling if you accidentally add more salt to boil your meat.

Always prepare ahead so that you dont need to rush and kill others appetite like I did.

Introducing different flavors and cuisines to your family should be done with experience. Try out the dishes you wanna share with your family a few times ahead so that you nail it to perfection. I dint do it and thats what was my fault in the first place.


The plain zataar with water on top of the pizza dough just ready to be baked.

Dry and hard out of the oven.
Some olive oil would have enhanced the flavors and made the top moist.