Sumac is indigenous to Iran and is cultivated throughout the namediterranean, most notably in Sicily and Turkey. Sumac is very popular in Egypt, the Middle East, Iran and Turkey. It has a very faint aroma with a fruity, tart and astringent taste. Sumac isn’t much on its own but it really shines when combined with other spices --- it is almost magical in the way that it brings out the flavor of other foods and spices. Sumac also possesses a deep red almost purple color.
Sumac is widely popular in Middle Eastern dishes where it is used on salads, meats, fish stew and rice. It is commonly eaten as an appetizer with sliced onions and a mixture of ground sumac and yogurt is often served with kebabs. With their tart flavor sumac berries are also used in Lebanese and Turkish cooking in place of lemon peel. In Iran and Turkey it is very common to find ground sumac on the table next to a bowl of chili flakes. In this country Sumac is also used in salad dressings, rice pilaf and vegetable casseroles. It is the primary ingredients in the Middle Eastern spice blends Za'atar.
Sumac goes well with chicken, fish, garbanzo beans, seafood, lamb, raw onions, pine nuts, walnuts and yogurt.
Sumac works well in combition with allspice, chile peppers, chili powder, cilantro, coriander, cumin, garlic, paprika, parsley, sesame and thyme.