“True gastronomy is making the most of what is available, however modest.” (Claudia Roden) Roden brings together recipes to create cultural stories of the people who live them. In “A Book of Middle Eastern Food” (1968) she writes dukkah is “a very personal and individual mixture”.

Dukkah (pronounced DOO-kah) is an Egyptian spice blend. The name comes from the Egyptian Arabic word “to crush” or “to pound.” Traditionally, this fragrant spice is made by crushing or pounding seeds and nuts in a mortar. A spice grinder or food processor can be used, but have helpers get involved in the process. Ask them to crush the ingredients!

Generally, Dukkah consists of cumin, coriander, sesame seeds, coarse salt, dried herbs, and nuts. Peanuts are commonly used, but a nice twist is pecans, almonds, or my favorite, pistachios. Make it your own by changing up the ingredients. When using a mortar to process the ingredients in to a coarse powder, the cooking area will be filled with aromatic scents that come together in a heavenly chorus for the senses. The finished product should be fine enough for a garnish, yet coarse enough to scoop up for a snack. While today it may be found in American pantries, served by street vendors, or in upscale restaurants around the world, it was once considered a poor person’s fare, used to season coarse flatbread.

Use this fragrant blend sprinkled on salads or vegetables, alongside olive oil, or even as a rub for fish or meat. Use as-is for a dip or add to hummus or yogurt. When sprinkled with dukkah, smashed avocado on toast becomes an interesting breakfast option. When I was introduced to dukkah, I had no idea what it was. A small serving bowl of it was placed alongside a small plate of olive oil. We sprinkled it on the accompanying toast bites. At home I recreated the experience by making it with pistachios and used it as a garnish cheese stuffed celery. When combined, the aromatic ingredients remind me of bringing together body and soul. I’ll include a basic recipe on my website.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: