Za’atar Brings Loads Of Heritage And Love From The Middle East To Mumbai!

What makes Middle Eastern cuisine so special is the fact that it’s a blend of different practices and traditions from different parts of the world. One can see the different culinary traits the cuisine has inherited from different regions, such as Mongolia, India, Africa, and even today, Europe. It's hard to resist the enticing flavors from this region that never fail to strike a chord with your heart and palate. And Za’atar is on a mission to make you fall in love with the Middle Eastern cuisine, one dish at a time. Since its inception, the eatery has been whipping up food that’s not only delicious but also heartwarming. Za’atar first opened its doors in Bandra in June 2018 and was one of the few places that had a full-fledged Lebanese menu under one roof. After sometime, Za’atar shifted to Khar and expanded to two more locations, with one outlet opening in Mumbai's affluent neighbourhood, Mahalaxmi, and two more opening in Pune. Ever since it came into being, Za’atar has always worked on the principle of serving delicious yet affordable food that customers can greatly relish. They are also very adamant about not falling for the fads that keep circulating in the food industry. "Back in 2017, when we friends were exploring the idea of working together, the discussions would always revolve around the idea of having a prominently Indian-owned and founded QSR, but to go beyond Indian food and explore other cuisines. We always thought there was an underdeveloped market in India within the QSR space, but with a lot of potential. It was our love for Middle Eastern cuisine and wanting to be our own customers that made us push to start this brand. After having researched the market, we realised the ingredients were available, and there was no excuse to complain but to just do it ourselves—that's how Za'atar was born. The beauty of Middle Eastern and Lebanese cuisine is that it is a light and easy diet that also fits many dietary lifestyles, such as vegan, keto, high protein, and low carb. It’s my go-to meal anytime of the day," says Advait Agnihotri, co-founder of Za’atar. Besides Agnihotri, the founding team of Za'atar includes Anuj Solanki, Jai Sarvaiya, and Nirvaan Thacker, who is also the chef. When asked about the name ‘Za’atar,’ Jai Sarvaiya says that the name stands for a spice that is widely used in Middle Eastern food. "Everyone we spoke with had fond memories of travelling to the Middle East or the UK/US and enjoying a cheesy za'atar manakeesh or a labneh with za'atar. That’s when we decided to name our brand after the spice, as it's not only unique but also because it serves as a representation of the Middle East," he adds. As for the food, Za’atar has always been meticulous about respecting the cuisine and maintaining high standards. Some of their best practices for ensuring the authenticity and high quality of the dishes involve importing spices from the Middle East and working closely with their vendors, who ensure a steady supply of the freshest ingredients on a daily basis. Some of their delicacies include a plethora of mezzes served with pickled vegetables and pita bread; Classic Falafel Shawarma consisting of crispy fried falafels, lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes along with harissa, tahina, and pickled vegetables; Harissa Cheese Manakeesh; Chicken Seekh Bowl; Schoug Mushroom Bowl; Cottage Cheese Moussaka served with grilled paneer, red pepper and tomato sauce, and feta cheese; and more. Za’atar’s signature dessert is the Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Hummus, which is an all-time favorite. It's vegan, light, and has some serious protein too! Also, there are certain items on the menu that can be served vegan or Jain on request. The person behind Za’atar’s mouth-watering, versatile menu is Nirvaan Thacker, who has always had a passion for cooking. "Since I was a child, I have always loved food and started cooking at a very young age too. There was a lot of influence from my grandmother and my parents as well, who are huge foodies and love cooking as well. The ‘Travel and Living’ channel played a big role in exposing the possibilities of a career in food; my favourite shows are Anthony Bourdain's," he adds when asked about what motivated him to enter the culinary world. "It's been a rollercoaster ride since we started including the COVID period, but I think it's for three reasons: Firstly, we have a simple menu that we have worked on several times to ensure that we consistently deliver the same taste and quality. Secondly, we've always tried to give something new to our customers and tried our best to keep coming with newer offerings, and lastly, we’ve got a great customer base that's supported us from the start and even continues to do so. Many of them now know us on a personal basis and have always given us honest feedback, which has helped us get things right and improve our service over the years," says Anuj Solanki. Nothing can win over someone’s heart the way good food can. And Za’atar has been doing just that and more since its inception. Make sure to head over to the nearest Za’atar outlet or order some of their finest delicacies to your doorstep! Address: Block No. 40 Laxmi Woolen Mills Compound, Shakti Mills Ln, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400011 Mahesh Building, Corner of 3rd and, 5th Rd, Khar West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400052 A-5, Shainsha Society, Lane No. 6, Koregaon Park, Pune, Maharashtra 411001