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Middle Eastern BEEF STEW with Za’atar for your Instant Pot, oven, slow cooker or stove top! AMAZING flavors in this spiced savory, succulent 1-pot stew!
This recipe is Paleo, Keto, Gluten-free, Ancestral, Low FODMAP and Whole30, plus great for anyone who loves a good beef stew with deep comforting flavors! For AIP, see the recipe notes and Notes section.
This super flavorful, rich Middle Eastern Beef Stew is the ultimate comfort food, transporting you to Israel and Northeastern Africa with its electrifying warming spices and wooing herbs. Both exciting and calming, enjoy the exotic depths of the earthy za’atar blend with nourishing beef and comforting vegetables.
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An immeasurable miracle happens when we allow, honor and appreciate new flavors from foreign cultures to touch our tongues and hearts.
The flavors in Middle Eastern Stew with Za’atar are inspired by our trips to the Middle East — where we loved the spiced beef patties sold at the outdoor market and sidewalk café — and savored the rich nuanced flavors of za’atar — a spice blend we SO enjoy using in our home now and would love more American and other families to enjoy!
This spice blend is made from the most flavorful and exciting of spices, herbs and seeds: sumac (which is a tiny lemony berry, very citrusy but richer with notes of berry and salt), sesame, marjoram, oregano, thyme, sea salt and sometimes coriander and cumin. Really authentic za’atar is made with hyssop, so I have linked to that product in the recipe and here if you want to buy it.
Za’atar and Low FODMAP
For those of you on a Low FODMAP diet for bloating and related symptoms, all of these ingredients except marjoram have been tested by Monash University and are allowed in the amounts used in this recipe. Based on the carbs and fiber in marjoram, it is considered Low FODMAP by the FODMAP community.
In fact, most herbs and spices are Low FODMAP.
Middle Eastern Beef Stew with Za’atar (Low FODMAP) ingredients
- beef chuck roast, or stew meat, or even short ribs — Choose based on what you can afford, or what tenderness of meat you prefer. Short ribs are the most tender. Chuck roast is all round great for stew. And stew meat tends to be a tougher, but my boys still enjoy it a lot, and it’s more affordable. I personally prefer the more tender cuts of meat. (While beef is used in this recipe, it’s also okay to use lamb, venison etc.)
- Optional, not for Keto: white peeled potatoes, or cassava root — I use cassava root because it’s gentler, whereas potatoes are a nightshade that give some people joint aches. But if you know you do great with potatoes, great! For Keto, use turnips!
- radishes — This recipe is extra special when the radishes are roasted. The flavors, colors and textures of the stew are heightened. So, I talk about this more below: my favorite way to make this recipe is in one pot + one sheet pan where some of the veggies get roasted. This isn’t a lot of extra work, and it yields a worthwhile result.
- (See Keto note.) carrots and/or parsnips — I like to use both. For Keto, omit, and do Roasted Cauliflower instead.
- optional garbanzo beans — I didn’t photograph the recipe with chickpeas, because I don’t want to confuse anyone on the AIP diet. These are optional and fine to omit for Paleo/AIP, or limit the amount for Keto. Yes, beans are now considered Low FODMAP when eaten in moderate amounts. Canned beans, soaked beans and sprouted beans are lowest in fermentable oligosaccarides.
How to make Middle Eastern Beef Stew with za’atar
To make this recipe, choose one of two options:
- Dump and cook (either in the oven, slow cooker, on the stove top or in your Instant Pot) — This, of course, is the fastest, easiest way to make the recipe.
- Sheet pan roast 2 of the veggies for the best flavor, color and texture, and dump and cook the rest of the recipe.
Both methods do turn out great, because the herb & spice blend that is za’atar + the super tender flavorful meat are just so great.
But roasting the veggies while the stew cooks is a quick and easy sheet pan process and worth it if you have the extra 10 minutes, because then you have more inviting veggies.
Cooking your root veggie
Whether you choose cassava (Paleo, AIP, non-nightshade option), potato or turnip (Keto option) — the root veggie for this recipe is kept whole or simply halved lengthwise during cooking. Like this:
- Place beef into pot.
- Add water and za’atar, and stir briefly to mix.
- Place root veggies, peeled and whole, or halved lengthwise, on top.
- Follow cooking instructions. After cooking, remove the root veggie, whole, and cut into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
- Optional ~ For those who want to add one extra step of yummy, I like to quickly sauté/fry, with a little salt, about 1/4 of my roots (potato, cassava or turnip) so the sides are crispy and brown. These I use to garnish the stew for the best “curb appeal”, flavor and texture.
Thickening the sauce
To finish the recipe:
- After removing the whole root veggie, bring your pot to a low simmer.
- Add thickener, as directed in the recipe, whisking.
- Now the stew base is all done, and it’s time to serve. Stir back in the chopped root veggie and veggies that may have been roasted.
- Serve, garnished with optional fried root and fresh thyme.
Middle Eastern Beef Stew with Za'atar
- Instant Pot pressure cooker or pot with lid for cooking stew on the stove top, or a Dutch oven for oven cooking that's also stove top safe, or slow cooker such as a Crock Pot
- optional sheet pan
- 2 pounds beef chuck roast or stew meat, cubed; or short ribs
- 1 to 1-½ pounds potatoes (2 large), peeled; or cassava root (for AIP) (I like to use frozen cassava that's already peeled from the Asian grocery store). For Keto, use turnips, or omit for Keto; instead, serve with a side of Herb Roasted Cauliflower.
- 4 to 5 cups water depending on how big your pot is and how much stew base you want (There is plenty either way, but if you want it soupier, add the full 5 cups. If you only use 4 cups, reduce the tapioca flour to 3 Tablespoons.)
- 1 bunch radishes trimmed and cut in half or quartered
- 4 large carrots or small parsnips, or I use a combination of both; I like to use white carrots -- Omit for Keto, (sub and stir in 1 lb steamed green beans after the stew is done cooking).
- ¼ cup za'atar spice blend <-- That link or: (See homemade recipe in Notes section below; also see AIP variation in Notes below.)
- ¼ cup tapioca flour Omit for Keto, (and use ⅛ teaspoon xanthan instead: whisk to blend in well, no need to simmer broth to thicken)
- 4 teaspoons sea salt or Homemade Potassium Salt
- Optional: 1 14-ounce can garbanzo beans drained -- or use dried garbanzo beans, if they're sprouted or soaked overnight in plain water first, and cook them with the beef; omit for Paleo/Wh30/AIP
- fresh thyme and sumac optional garnish
To roast radishes separately (and carrots/parsnips for non-Keto; add cauliflower for Keto)
- Toss with 2 Tablespoons avocado oil. Roast in preheated 400° oven for 35-45 minutes. If roasting parsnips, watch them closely: they cook and burn a lot more quickly. Check and rotate parsnips after just 15 minutes. Parsnips will be done at different times, starting at 25 minutes; remove them in stages as they brown, so they don't get too dark. Note: If you are oven-baking this recipe and want to cook both the roasted veggies and the stew at the same time, roast the veggies at the lower 350° temperature for longer (give them up to 1 hour, but check on them, and flip them.)
Middle Eastern Beef Stew with Za'atar
- Instant Pot: Add beef to insert pot. Add water and za'atar, and stir to mix, so herbs are wetted. If making the one-pot version (no roasting of veggies), add the veggies and optional beans to the pot. Top all with whole root veggies (potato, cassava, or turnip for Keto). Press "Stew" button, and cook 35 minutes. When cooking time ends, allow to release pressure naturally for 25 minutes, then do a QPR.Slow-cook Oven Bake Method (use a stove-top safe vessel for the finishing step when you'll need to thicken the stew): Preheat oven to 350°. Add beef to pot. Add water and za'atar, and stir slightly to mix, so herbs are wetted. If making the one-pot version (no roasting of veggies), add the veggies and optional beans to the pot. Top all with whole root veggies (potato, cassava, or turnip for Keto). Cover with tight fitting lid. Cook 30 minutes, then reduce temperature to 325°, and cook 2 hours, or until meat is tender.Stove top: Assemble the pot the same as outlined above for the oven method. Use the full 5 cups water. Cover with tight fitting lid. Slow simmer over medium-low heat for 2 to 2-½ hours, until meat is tender. Adjust heat to maintain slow simmer.Slow Cooker: Assemble the pot the same as outlined above for the oven method. Use the full 5 cups water. Cover with lid. Cook on Low heat 8 to 12 hours, until meat is very tender. Remove potatoes, cassava or turnips once they're tender, about 6 hours; set aside while stew finishes cooking.
Finish the stew with thickening:
- Remove potatoes, cassava root or turnips to cutting board while you thicken the stew. Cut them into bite-size cubes. Set aside. (Optional: Heat a thick-bottomed pan over medium heat, add a Tablespoon of oil to the pan; fry cubes of cassava or other root, just a portion of them, for garnish.)In your main stew pot, move the meat to the outer edges so you can easily pour thickener into the center of the pot and be able to whisk it in.How to add thickener -- Paleo version: In a small bowl, stir together ¼ cup water + ¼ cup tapioca flour; with a fork or small whisk works best. With the stew still simmering (on IP, press Sauté button if needed; for oven pot, place over low heat), stir in tapioca flour slurry, and simmer just briefly as you continue to stir. Stew will visibly thicken. Remove from heat. For Keto version: your stew that is done cooking does not need to be simmering to thicken. While already whisking, fan in xanthan, and whisk well. Stew will visibly thicken with vigorous whisking after about 30 seconds. Now the stew base is all done, and it's time to serve.
- Stir back in chopped potatoes, cassava or turnips + the chopped root veggies or other veggies that may have been roasted. Or, reserve any you may wish to use on the top for garnish, including optional fried cassava (or potato or turnips). Also optionally garnish with fresh thyme and sprinkling of sumac.
To make your own Za'atarMix up a batch, and then seal in a small storage jar, in a dark pantry for future uses, after measuring out the amount you'll need for this recipe.
- ½ cup ground sumac
- 3 Tablespoons dried marjoram
- 3 Tablespoons dried thyme
- 2 Tablespoons white sesame seeds, optionally toasted
- 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons Celtic sea salt, Maldon sea salt or Homemade Lite Salt (higher in potassium)
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- optional: 1 Tablespoon cumin
For AIPThe herb blend in this recipe is super flavorful, thanks to oregano and thyme. For AIP, use this blend:
- 3 Tablespoons each: marjoram, thyme and oregano
- 1 Tablespoon dried ginger
- 2 teaspoons Celtic sea salt
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
The following nutritional data is for the Keto version of this recipe, which uses turnips and green beans.
You can find more wonderful stews in my Soups & Stews Cookbook here.
Pin Middle Eastern Beef Stew with Za’atar here:
More stew recipes on the blog
- Middle Eastern Lamb Stew
- Best Easy Short Ribs
- Mexican Stew (Low Histamine, Nightshade-free)
- Low Histamine Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew
- Chinese Chicken and Wild Mushroom Stew
- African Chicken Groundnut Stew
- Zucchini Chorizo Butter Stew
- Indonesian Peanut Butter Stew