The internet contains a frighteningly vast reservoir of untested ideas. That said, one of my discoveries this week in reading others’ food blogs is something called “dukkah” “duqqa” or “duqqah”. Since the word is originally Egyptian, it is all sort of a best-guess anyway.
I read about it on Chica Andaluza‘s blog. She mentioned it so casually that I almost missed the reference. Almost is, of course, the operative word here. Mmmm!
She also mentions za’atar, and that blend I know well from my forays into the Armenian markets in Watertown. Thyme, sesame seeds, oregano, sumac, it is delicious and verstaile. But dukkah was something new to me. So, I got excited.
Of course, with any “special blend” like this, the only truly correct way to make it is the way your grandmother’s great-grandmother made it. Barring that, it is pretty much open season. The only common threads I found were hazelnuts, sesame seeds, cumin and coriander. I found a recipe that called for adding fennel, one that added mint (I added both because I love them), one recipe actually called for chickpeas rather than hazelnuts, but that sounded rather hummus-y to me.
Some recipes say leave the sesame seeds whole. Some say grind it all. Some folks say use a mortar and pestle, others recommend a food processor. I used an electric coffee grinder. Most say to add salt but I didn’t as I prefer to taste and add only if necessary.The one thing I can tell you is, have fun with this. The primary use seems to be on bread, dip the bread (ideally pita) in olive oil then in dukkah and enjoy! Or, like they do in Watertown, you could “paint” your pita with olive oil, sprinkle this on as a topping, and cut into small portions…
Having made my first batch, I can tell you two things. First, it makes the house smell heavenly and second, next time I think I’ll add even more fennel and mint. Here’s a happy thing; since I don’t actually know what it is supposed to taste like, I think it tastes great!
I can’t give you an exact recipe, but I can tell you what I did and hope you’ll try it. I think that in addition to topping bread, this would go great with a soft cheese (that’s what started all this, after all), on chicken or pork as a dry rub, in some soups, on salads, on eggs, please tell us what you find to do with it!
Here’s a very close approximation of what I did this time:
1/2 C ground hazelnuts
3 T cumin seed
3 T coriander seed
3 T sesame seeds
1 T fennel seed
1 T dried mint
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Toast the cumin, coriander, sesame and fennel seeds until fragrant. Remove from heat and cool. Grind together with the mint in a spice (coffee) grinder, do not over-grind! Mix with the ground hazelnuts and pepper. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place or refrigerate. This should keep for several months, if it lasts that long.
So, this is very easy, especially if you know a good spice merchant or have access to a wonderful bulk department at your grocery. Oh, and “epes”? A handy Yiddish word meaning “sort of” or “more or less”. Since, as I warned you above, I don’t know what this is supposed to taste like, you’re on your own from here on out! Have fun… mmmmm!