What is sumac?  

Persian Street Vendor Kebabsenlarge
Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Leigh Ann Ross

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If you have a cooking question, our expert, Marge Perry, can answer it. Marge teaches home cooks in her classes at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She is an award-winning food writer, longtime contributor for Cooking Light and a number of other leading food magazines, author of the blog A Sweet and Savory Life, columnist for Newsday, and has contributed to over 20 cookbooks.

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 What is sumac? I have a recipe that calls for it, but it is not at my grocery store. 

Sumac is a spice, used mostly in Middle Eastern cooking, that has a lovely tart mild lemon flavor. The deep red berries are most often used ground into a powder. I often sprinkle it over a platter of grilled vegetables or roasted chicken; it looks as appealing as it tastes.

You can get sumac at specialty Middle Easter shops, or on line from a number of specialty spice producers, such as The Spice House and Penzeys. Amazon also carries a number of brands of sumac.

These Persian Street Vendor Kebabs are one example of a recipe that uses sumac.

Marge Perry
Oct, 2011
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