D is for dukah

Dukah or dukkah or duqqa or dakka – and all pronounced doo-kah – is Egyptian in origin, and has gradually found its way to the UK, via the inimitable Claudia Roden, and is also popular in the Antipodes. A lot of the “dukkah chat” on the interweb refers to the “Ottolenghi effect”. I have only had it sprinkled on an avocado and feta bagel – very, very good – and hadn’t realized that it is more traditionally used as a dry dip adhered to flat bread by olive oil, as a crust on meat or fish, or sprinkled over soft cheese.

While these serving suggestions definitely appealed, one of the selling points is the fact that there is no one acceptable method of making it. Having read around a few different suggestions, the method seems to be to take some hazelnuts and add any other vaguely regional spices to taste. As a sucker for any recipe that is less than prescriptive, I wanted to give this a go.

My mixture was:

- 100g skin on hazelnuts

- 1 level tablespoon coriander seeds

- 2 level tablespoons sesame seeds

- ½ teaspoon ground cumin

- 2 level tablespoons of salt flakes

- 1 level teaspoon black pepper

Sunflower seeds were also suggested but I don’t like them so didn’t - see how great this type of recipe is! I would have liked to add in some pistachios or dried mint but didn’t have any. I was also restrained and managed not to nuke it with a liberal serving of chilli flakes.

The idea is to roast the hazelnuts until coloured. It was suggested that this was best done in the oven but for convenience I opted to dry fry. I started off the hazelnuts first guessing they would take longer before the other spices, and the sesame seeds last.

A lot of the recipes recommended a food processor to crush them to a stage where the mix is fine but not pulverized – this causes the nuts and seeds to release too much oil and become a paste. I opted for a bit of elbow grease and the mortar and pestle as I wanted it to stay reasonably chunky.

I found that it needed more salt that I had anticipated but would suggest doing this to taste. It can be stored for several months in an airtight jar but I don’t think this will last that long. I also read reference to a sweet version with nuts, sesame, chocolate and caraway seeds. Maybe next time.


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