Today we’re gonna take you on a sunny, spicy walk through the Middle East. When most people hear ‘The Middle East’ they immediately think of very unpleasant things, whereas we immediately think of spicy, yummy, indulgent dishes; simple food made to shine, prepared in a century-old, traditional way. There are numerous signature spices to Middle Eastern cuisine, and some well-known spice mixes. Dukka for example. Also spelled dukkah or duqqa, it is an Egyptian spice mix widely used in the whole Middle East. A melange of spices and nuts, dukka is a favourite addition to a wide range of dishes and is usually prepared at home, each family tweaking the recipe to their taste. However, we are going to give you the original ingredients, and leave it to you to experiment.
I like to think in numbers when it comes to the proportions of dukka—4-2-2-1! What does it all mean you say? Well, let me explain. Dukka has 4 main ingredients—hazelnuts, coriander seeds, sesame seeds, and cumin seeds. In case I don’t have scales around when I’m making it, I use a cup and add them in that order, in those proportions. The cumin seeds are one fourth of the nuts, and the coriander and sesame, half of the nuts. In grams it would look like this: 100g hazelnuts, 50g coriander seeds, 50g sesame seeds and 25g cumin seeds. It won’t matter if you don’t measure exactly right though—these are rough guidelines, not laws to live by!
Another important step when you prepare dukka is to toast everything separately before you ground or pulse the ingredients together. Toasting spices and nuts releases their aroma and essential oils. I usually toast mine in a pan on the stove, moving the pan and its contents continuously, lifting it off the stove if I feel it gets too hot. I don’t want burnt spice, just toasty and fragrant! You can also use the oven, I just find it a bit slow.
After I toast my spices and nuts, I let them cool before pulsing them all together. Actually, according to Wikipedia, the word dukka is derived from an Arabic word which means ‘to pound’, so technically I probably have to use a mortar and pestle to blend the spices together…Unfortunately I’m too lazy, and hey, I really don’t have the upper body strength for that. And Simeon wasn’t around as well…
You can definitely decide to pulse more or less than what I did here. The texture of dukka is a matter of personal taste
Add seasoning—salt and freshly ground pepper, and put the spice mix in an airtight container in case you don’t use all of it right away. I keep mine in the fridge and sometimes I just take it out to sniff. It smells divine, guys! I can’t help it. I’m a spice addict…
When I feel particularly fancy, I add dried herbs to my dukka—mint is a favourite, but you can also add oregano, thyme and a bit of dried chili, to give it that pungent kick! If you’re not a fan of hazelnuts, substitute for pine nuts(mmm…luxurious), or pistachios(it gives it that very Middle Eastern feel, especially if combined with nutmeg, cinnamon, or cloves)!
Dukka is used widely in all manner and style in Middle Eastern cuisine—as a topping, a main ingredient, a meat or fish rub(yum, yum, yum—I especially love it with lamb)…Lately it’s been gaining a lot of popularity in the West as well. So give it a try, add some sunny, exotic notes to your cooking.
To start you off, I made a really simple dish to show this spice mix off. It’s the hummus! Who doesn’t love the hummus? It’s criminally delicious and notoriously easy and quick to make—especially if you use canned garbanzo beans(I often do). You can go all the way and soak and cook your beans if you have the time or inclination, but I often spontaneously decide to make hummus for a quick dinner, while everybody at home is starving and in such cases no one tolerates my food-snobbishness. They all just want to eat! 😉 So here it is, the quick and easy dukka hummus!
The only allowance, the hungry people give me, is to peel the garbanzo beans. I’ve trained them to want silky smooth hummus, and the skins must be removed for that. And I can always put their hungry fingers to good use, so it all takes not more than 5 minutes. Peel the beans, add tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt and olive oil to taste, and pulse everything together. You’re done! And now for the pièce de résistence—add a couple of spoonfuls of dukka and mix well to incorporate! I’ll give you the exact proportions in the recipe box, if you’re not comfortable with winging it.
Enjoy the dukka hummus with some delicious cumin lavash triangles. You can find the recipe for lavash here, it’s the very first recipe we prepared for the blog, guys! The only change to the original lavash is the addition of 1tbsp of cumin seeds to the dough. You can use other spices if you have them around—fennel seeds work well, black pepper is an interesting addition as well. But I just love the cumin seeds, so give them a chance! Cut out triangles from the dough and bake them shortly in a very hot oven. Oh, the aroma in the kitchen will follow you around for days, I promise!
And then there’s the dukka hummus! It’s out-of-this-world…It’s smoothness, crunchiness (from the nuts), and the intensely fragrant spices… If you don’t become addicted, I will consider myself a failure!
Have a spicy day, you guys!
Dukka Hummus With Cumin Lavash Triangles
For the dukka:
- 100g hazelnuts
- 50g coriander seeds
- 50g sesame seeds
- 25g cumin seeds
For the hummus:
- 300g drained garbanzo beans
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1tbsp tahini
- lemon juice from half a lemon
- olive oil, salt, pepper
- Toast all the ingredients separately.
- Let them cool.
- Pulse in a food processor to the texture of your choice.
- Peel the garbanzo beans.
- Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper to the beans and pulse in a food processor.
- Add as much dukka as you want and mix well with a spoon.