What is sumac?

Anne Bodel


Sam1148 October 14, 2014
It's a pretty common plant. You've probably seen it before by the road side. The berries form a cone of tiny berries. In the fall they turn reddish brown..and start to dry out.
They have a lemmony flavor and sometimes it's brewed in a tea called Indian Lemonade.
It's very high in Vitamin C and used as a folk remedy with honey for a cold.

You can use dried lemmon zest to substitute.
ChezHenry October 14, 2014
A tablespoon or so mixed into some full fat, greek yogurt with a squeeze of lemon juice is a fantastic dipping sauce for lamb, turkey or beef. A lamb burger, topped with it and some Arugula will highlight the sumac. Its a key ingredient throughout the now popular(rightfully so) Ottolenghi cookbooks.
CarlaCooks October 14, 2014
The flavor of sumac is amazing. Like Susan W wrote, it's almost citrusy in taste, with a bit of salt and a certain something special. It's delicious on all kinds of foods, not just Middle Eastern food. I really like it on roast chicken.
Susan W. October 13, 2014
It's actually the berries ground up. I've occasionally seen them sold whole as well, but only once or twice. It's a pretty red color with a spicy almost lemony flavor.
creamtea October 13, 2014
It is a slightly tart spice--used in Persian cooking. Often sprinkled over rice.
Liza's K. October 13, 2014
Sumac is one of 30+ species of flowering plants that grow mostly in North America and Africa. The spice, which I'd guess you are asking about, is the flowers ground up. It's used in a lot of Middle Eastern cooking and can be sprinkled on hummus, put on kebab, and added to rice. It's often added to the za'atar spice blend (za'atar is a plant itself, but generally when you hear people talk about it they are referring to the blend).
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