If you’ve been following this blog at all you know (and for those who haven’t, here’s the rub…), I love when traditions, spices/spice blends or ingredients from other cultures make that easy transition across into our own. Something translatable, that takes foods we know and love to another level.
I am passionate about culturally unique specialties, and Egyptian dukkah is just that – a warm spice blend of sorts that includes the bonus of roasted nuts. It’s actually quite close to a West African tradition called tsire, another blend of nuts and spices (which I’ll have to write about soon) and is eaten in Egyptian culture much like za’atar is in other ones, with bread and a little olive oil.
Dukkah starts with a base of roasted nuts – usually hazelnuts but sometimes pistachios, almonds or cashews. To that, sesame seeds, coriander seeds, and cumin are added and occasionally even dried roasted chickpeas. Other spices might include black or red pepper, fennel, nigella seeds or caraway and, for herbs, mint, marjoram or thyme. A touch of salt, perhaps some sugar, a bit of pounding with a mortar and pestle (or, gasp, a spice grinder) and you have an incredibly textural, nutty blend that can top everything from bread to salads to pastas (how ridiculous would it be on top of pumpkin ravioli?!?).
Egyptians also eat dukkah with eggs, which is genius, because it’s the perfect topper for a simple Sunday scramble. I do love it on your basic mixed greens with a little balsamic and olive oil and can’t get enough of blending it with panko for breading chicken, fish or even lamb. I’m thinking my next experiment will be a little sweet potato hash with bacon and a sprinkling of this stuff…