Dukkah (دقة), duqqa, doa, or duah is a mix of roasted spices, seeds and dried fruits, coming from Egypt and very popular in the Middle East. This dry mix has left the borders of Egypt, and has also become famous in Ethiopia, Europe, and other countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
What is dukkah?
From the Arabic word “to pound” or “to beat”, dukkah is a mixture of seeds, dried fruits, aromatic herbs and spices. It is tasty without being full-bodied.
While the recipe varies, sesame, coriander, black pepper and cumin are the essential ingredients of the recipe. Other seeds may be added.
How to prepare dukkah?
All the ingredients, roasted separately, are ground with a coffee grinder or coarsely crushed in a mortar.
The most common and traditional dukkah recipe consists of hazelnuts, sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black pepper seeds, and paprika.
But there are several variants, here are some examples:
- A variant with almonds and / or pistachios,
- A variant with roasted chickpeas (available pre-roasted in stores),
- A variant with pine nuts and hazelnuts,
- A variant with pumpkin seeds and/or sunflower seeds,
- A variant with peanuts,
- A salt-free variant with hazelnuts, mint, fennel and thyme,
- A variant with coriander and some caraway.
It is important for the mixture to be coarsely chopped and not ground to a powder, in order to prevent the dried fruits from releasing their oil, turning it all into an unattractive jelly.
It is also very important to roast all the ingredients separately and without adding any fat.
Hazelnuts, for example, given their larger size, require more roasting time than sesame seeds. It is obvious that by adding all the ingredients into the pan at the same time, small seeds such as sesame will color more quickly than hazelnuts, which will remain rather white. Hence the advice to roast everything separately.
How to use dukkah in cooking?
Dukkah works perfectly with fish, meat, vegetables and tofu. For example, for some preparations, it is common to prepare a dukkah marinade.
This way, not only are the dishes given an additional flavorful touch, but by choosing to roast or grill the meat, it will be covered with a very appetizing crunchy layer.
You can also dilute dukkah in olive oil to dip bread or vegetable sticks.
You can also prepare a delicious sauce by combining this dukkah mixture and olive oil with plain yogurt.
It is also common to season salads with dukkah by adding it to a vinaigrette sauce or by sprinkling it just before serving.
Like zaatar, the dukkah mixture goes very well with fresh goat or sheep cheese.
Spices and spice blends
Typical Egyptian cuisine is influenced in part by Mediterranean cuisine and by the gastronomic tradition of the Middle East. Spices are widely used, coriander, cumin, turmeric, black pepper and the indispensable shatta, an Egyptian term for chili, found almost everywhere.
Spice blends are born all over the world from very ancient practices, often linked to traditional empirical medicine as well as cooking.
The use of spices is indeed linked to ancestral knowledge which has always helped mankind as a protection against certain diseases, to strengthen the body, and even to cure diseases in some cases.
With the development of “scientific” medicine, the function of spices and spice blends has been reduced, to become only an aromatic or flavoring role, even if the presence of spices is still recognized as beneficial in many cases.
The health benefits of spices
- Turmeric: universally appreciated nowadays for its prophylactic and healing powers,
- Ginger: invigorating, and helps with bleeding and as anti-vomiting and anti-nausea medication, it is a spice used for nausea during pregnancy, in chemotherapy and for seasickness,
- Nutmeg: antiseptic properties,
- Cumin: known for its digestive properties and for being an excellent source of iron. With a bitter and persistent flavor, it is a spice used in particular in Indian cuisine, curry and in certain Mexican and North African dishes.
- Cinnamon: regulates blood sugar levels, with antibacterial and antispasmodic properties and an ability to fight hypertension,
- Fennel seeds: beneficial for the digestive system,
- Cloves: widely used in many cuisines, with a great anesthetic power: clove oil is used to relieve tooth pain as an ingredient in dental medicines,
- and many other spices, some of which are even used in some modern medicines.
Mixing the spices to obtain tasty blends is not a rare occurrence: spices are of course mixed according to the overall flavor that the mixture will confer, but also according to old therapeutic combinations which are not always obvious to everyone nowadays, but still perfectly understandable for users of certain oriental medicines or for some westerners familiar with this empirical science transmitted from generation to generation.
In conclusion, even though we no longer know the reason, when we mix spice blends in some recipes, let us remember that there is, and has always been, a “why”.
There is a multitude of spice blends in cuisines all around the world, and it is obviously impossible to know them all, but a round-the-world tour of these mixes cannot omit the most common:
- four spices
- ras el hanout,
- dry rub,
- suya spices,
- garam masala,
- tikka masala,
- Thai yellow curry paste,
- Thai green curry paste,
- five-spice powder,
- herbes de Provence.
Spices are part of the culinary tradition of many countries around the world, and it is rare to find dishes where only one spice is used. In the kitchen, and with very few exceptions, spices behave more like an orchestra than soloists, creating a balance of flavors and aromas, and an overlap of flavors and hints.
Each country has developed its own combinations of spices and favorite flavors, and these blends have become real ingredients used in everyday cooking.
How to preserve dukkah?
Preparing spice blends at home obviously takes longer and takes more effort than buying them ready, often for better results without any preservatives.
To optimize storage, add the dukkah into a glass jar with a screw-on lid and store it in an area protected from light and humidity. Optionally, if the place is too bright, too hot or even too humid, keep the dukkah jar in the refrigerator.
However, do not keep the dukkah for more than 5 weeks and only prepare the quantity you’re planning on using within this period.
Do you love intense and exotic flavors, giving a different and captivating taste to your dishes and giving an ethnic and original touch to your recipes? Then quickly try this delicious blend of spices, seeds and dried fruits called dukkah.
Dukkah is a blend of roasted spices, seeds and dried fruits, coming from Egypt and popular in the Middle East, Ethiopia, Australia and New Zealand.
- 1½ cup chopped hazelnuts
- ¾ cup sesame seeds
- 4 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 4 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds optional
- Coffee grinder
- Place a dry pan on high heat and toast the hazelnuts, stirring constantly. Once golden, take them out of the pan and set them aside in a bowl.
- Do the same thing with the sesame seeds while stirring well. Please note that they should not burn.
- Do the same thing with coriander, cumin and sunflower seeds.
- Coarsely mix all the roasted ingredients in a coffee grinder or using a mortar and pestle.
- Add the fleur de sel, and black pepper then mix or pound the mixture but not too finely in order to keep some crunchiness. Finally, add the smoked paprika.
- Add the dukkah in a glass jar and close tightly with a lid.
- Store it in a cool place, away from light and humidity, or even in the refrigerator.