Saturday, June 11, 2011

Delightful Dukkah

Meet my new spice mix addiction…dukkah. You, too, can be addicted to dukkah! Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mix that is incredibly versatile. Traditionally, nuts, sesame seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds are toasted and ground together with salt to form an aromatic mix to sprinkle lavishly. You can be creative and add other seeds and spices to make it your own (such as dried mint or coconut). I had eaten dukkah while traveling in Egypt and Israel and loved it. Searching for it back at home, though, I was disappointed in the store bought version, a musty and bland powder.

This past week, I had the pleasure of testing a recipe at Food52 that was a candidate for an Editor’s Pick (and won!). Antonia James submitted her recipe for Hard Cooked Eggs with Lime Aioli and Dukkah. Let me just say, her dukkah is terrific. It has crunch and pizzazz. The toasted spices are fragrant and pounding with a mortar and pestle is always so much fun. Bob used to live in Jerusalem and when he caught a whiff he was transported back. All week, I have been liberally dusting dukkah on roasted fingerling potatoes, salads, tomato sandwiches and even my morning oatmeal (which made a lovely savory porridge).

I made canapés from the Food52 recipe and could not assemble them fast enough for my family (toasted baguette slices slathered with aioli, layered with sliced hard cooked eggs and sprinkled with dukkah). These canapés will make regular appearances at summer parties. And the dukkah has become a pantry staple.

from Antonia James at Food52

2 heaping tablespoons raw sesame seeds
2 tablespoons lightly roasted pumpkin seeds (or, more traditionally,¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted and skins removed, or roasted garbanzos)
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon grains of paradise or freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Toast the sesame seeds in a small heavy skillet. Remove and partially crush using a mortar and pestle, just enough to release a bit of fragrance.

Finely chop the roasted pumpkin seeds (or hazelnuts or garbanzos).

Toast the cumin seeds and the coriander seeds, separately, in a small heavy skillet just until fragrant. Watch carefully, and remove immediately, lest they burn.

Crush the seeds together using a mortar and pestle, or by pulsing in an electric spice grinder. They should be coarse, and not fine.

Combine all of the ingredients in the mortar and pestle and pound lightly a few times. Give the blend a few final good stirs, to combine. It should smell divine.

Store any leftover dukkah in the refrigerator, tightly covered.

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