dukkah: so not dookie ::::
The first time I tried dukkah was with a whole wheat walnut bread and olive oil, sipping tea in a tea house. The waitress recommended it and explained it was of Egyptian descent, now residing in a comfy European-style teahouse in Chicago, surrounded with squashy pillow and chairs, modern folk music quietly drifting from the stereo’s speakers, and a few customers with laptops and tattoos. I’ve seen many permutations since that time: dukkah with roasted fruit or raw vegetables, dukkah with boiled eggs, a dukkah sprinkle over salads, even dukkah as a crust for meats, fish, or poultry. It was the memorable name that stuck with me after my teahouse inauguration: dukkah. Like dookie? Like Green Day’s first album? If Green Day had been piped through the speakers instead of modern folk, it would have been even more memorable.
That was almost five years ago. It took me that long to make my own. Don’t be like me: if you like nuts and spices, there is no excuse not to try this sooner. It’s very versatile. Duk-up your snack time with this treat. If your kids like to eat nuts, this might be a fun way to have more for snacks. You might want to edge down the pepper, depending on how much your kids can handle. Dukky breakfasts are also easy: hard boil some eggs, peel, press into a plate of dukkah, and you have your protein for the day. Use some fresh bread, or even day-old, dipped in some fruity olive oil and dukkah for a quick lunch.
Egyptian fare in a European-style teahouse is unexpected and different, and so is every dukkah recipe. You will never find two of the same. Change it up yourself. You don’t like hazelnuts? Try pistachios. Want to add some more spices? Try cinnamon or cloves. Want some heat? Red chili flakes are perfect.
I enjoyed this mixture with fresh bread and day-old, as well as hard boiled eggs. And the surprise favorite: fresh strawberries. The sweet, bright tart berry dipped into the mix of nuts, salt, spices, and black pepper made for a unique side for my lunch today. There are many recipes that highlight the marriage of black pepper and strawberries, often served as a hybrid of savory and sweet. Perfect with tea. In a European-style teahouse. In Chicago. And definitely Cairo.
- 4 tablespoons baking soda (if removing hazelnut skins -- see note below)
- ⅔ cup hazelnuts
- ½ cup sesame seeds (I used golden and black)
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds (I actually used pre-ground cumin)
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper**
- 1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). IF REMOVING SKINS ON THE HAZELNUTS: Combine 3 cups water, baking soda, and hazelnuts. Boil in saucepan (there will be some fizzing from the baking soda) for 3 minutes.* (Skip to #3 if not skinning.)
- Check to see if skins slip off by running a couple of nuts under cold water and trying to slip skins off with your fingers. If they still hold tight, try another 2 minutes of boiling. Rinse all nuts to slip off skins and pat dry.
- Place on baking sheet and roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant.
- In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until light golden brown. Pour into a medium bowl as soon as they are done so they will not continue toasting. In the same skillet, toast the coriander while shaking the pan or stirring occasionally until fragrant and flowery. Remove from pan and toast cumin seed in same manner.
- Transfer to a food processor or spice grinder. Process until finely ground (or more chunky, depending on your taste), then pour into the bowl with the sesame seeds. Place the cooled hazelnuts into the food processor, and process until finely ground (or chunky). Stir into the bowl with the spices.
- Season with salt and pepper, and mix well. Serve with crusty bread dipped in olive oil, hard-boiled eggs, vegetables, whatever you think might taste good. Try the strawberries. Really.