No matter where you grew up or which cultural cuisine you’re most familiar with, whenever you think of spice blends, you likely think of a powdered mixture of blended herbs and spices. Dukkah, an aromatic spice blend from Egypt, is not one of those. While other spice blends are incorporated into the dish during the cooking process, dukkah is a crunchy mixture of nuts, seeds, and spices that is typically used for dipping bread into. While its traditional use is humble, but delicious, dukkah is quickly becoming an international favorite.
What is Dukkah?
Dukkah (pronounced DOO-kah), also known as duqqa, du’ah, and do’a, is an Egyptian spice blend that gets its name from the Arabic word for “to crush” or “to pound,” which is exactly how this unconventional spice blend is made. While blends that have become staples in many of our spice cabinets, such as garam masala, poultry seasoning, and Italian seasoning are a mixture of dried herbs and spices, most dukkah recipes include nuts and sesame seeds that are ground together with salt, whole cumin, and coriander seeds.
The most common nuts in dukkah is hazelnut, but depending on the region, different ingredients may be used. Peanuts may also be used and some modern versions include pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, pecans, pistachios, and sunflower seeds. When it comes to flavor, no dukkah is exactly alike. While they all have subtle nuttiness from sesame seeds, smokiness from cumin, and floral notes from coriander seeds in their base, it is very customizable. Mint, sumac, nigella seeds, thyme, and whole peppercorns are also common mix-ins.
How to Make Dukkah
There are many ways to make dukkah, but to make classic dukkah, take 1/2 cup raw hazelnuts, 1 teaspoon whole cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, and a pinch of salt. Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a skillet (a minute or two should be all you need), then add all ingredients to a mortar and pestle, spice grinder, or small blender. Blend until combined, but leave the hazelnuts still intact. This dukkah is the perfect topping for this Avocado Smash With Cashew Drizzle.
Try swapping the hazelnuts with your favorite nuts and mix in your favorite herbs and spices. This Naan Avocado Toast, for example, swaps the classic hazelnuts for walnuts. Making dukkah is all a matter of personal taste. When making your own, use a ratio of two-thirds nuts and seeds and a third of herbs and spices.
Traditionally, dukkah is eaten as a dip with bread. Take your favorite bread, dip it in extra virgin olive oil with fruity notes, then dip the bread in dukkah. Try dukkah with this Whole Wheat Sourdough, this gluten-free Naan, these Lemon Thyme and Roasted Garlic Flatbreads, or this Tunisian Italian Bread. Try pairing dukkah and bread with different types of high-quality olive oils, too. Each region produces a different flavor. Or, infuse your olive oil with herbs and spices. In Australia, dukkah has gained some popularity as a bar food served with bread and olive oil. You can even find house-made dukkah blends in some health food stores.
Recently, the love for dukkah has crossed international borders. It’s being used as breading in cooking shows and high-end restaurants or as a topping for pasta, vegetables, casseroles, and more. Try it over roasted vegetables, as in this Roasted Beet Salad or this Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin With Tahini Yogurt or sprinkle it over fresh salads. Dukkah is customizable, so making your own is a great way to learn which spices pair best with which veggies.
Try making dukkah-crusted tofu be swapping the herbs and spices in this recipe for Crispy Coated Baked Tofu with your own homemade dukkah blend. Or, swap the hemp seeds in this Crispy Baked Cauliflower Steaks for dukkah.
There are so many other ways to try dukkah. Slice up some citrus fruit, like an orange or clementine, and eating it with a sprinkle of dukkah. Sprinkle it over this dairy-free Coconut Greek Yogurt and pair it with this grain-free Spiced Lentil Granola.
In the United States, it’s tough to find dukkah, but Trader Joe’s offers its own blend. Even if you can’t find dukkah in stores, most grocery stores will carry the base ingredients (cumin, coriander, sesame seeds, and raw nuts and seeds) to make it.
Or, you can find dukkah online. Trader Joe’s offers their Dukkah on Amazon. Their blend is made from almonds, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, coriander, anise seeds, and kosher salt online. One 3.3-ounce jar costs about $12.50. Or, try this Egyptian Dukkah Spice Blend by The Silk Road Restaurant, which is made from hazelnuts, coriander, sesame seeds, cumin, black peppercorn, dried mint, fennel seed. One 1.5-ounce tin costs $10. Or, try this Dukkah by Burma Spice, made from coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, thyme leaves, marjoram leaves, black peppercorns, hazelnuts and sesame seeds. One 4-ounce bag costs about $13.
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