Sumac is a spice widely used in Middle East and Mediterranean cooking. The sumac bush, with its deep red berries which are dried and ground into a coarse powder, is native to the Middle East and it is easily found in the markets there.
As a spice, sumac was also widely used by ancient Europeans to add tartness to a recipe until the Romans introduced lemons.
Sumac is a versatile spice with a tangy, lemony flavour, more balanced and less tart than lemon juice. A small sprinkle can also be used to add dramatic red colour to any dish. It can also be used as rub and in salads.
It pairs up well with vegetables, grilled lamb, chicken, and fish, and it is one of the main components in the spice mix za’atar and as a topping for the Middle Eastern fattoush salad. Try is as a topping for hummus, or dusted over French fries (chips), or sprinkled over salmon steaks as you would use dill before cooking them.
Generally, you can replace lemon juice with sumac.