Posted by: Rachel | August 14, 2011

seeds and stems…

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.

small bags of various herbs

many seeds, a few stems

Doing one’s homework on the Internet can be daunting. Who to trust, who to trust… I started with the Wikipedia article and then branched out to Allrecipes, and About, and a number of other sites.

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.

toasting the seeds

can you smell it? mmmm...!

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:

Epes Duqqah

final dukkah, ready to store

mine, all mine!

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!



  1. This is too cool. I love Chica’s blog!

  2. Well, we’re all one big happy family out here in the blogosphere, right? (grin) Seriously, though, this is some good stuff! Mmmm…

  3. wow … now there’s a memory.

    About 15 years ago was the first time I ever “met” dukkah … and had no clue what was in it, but it was great with bread dipped in olive oil then into the dukkah. All this at a most unexpected place – a bed and breakfast in Wellington, New Zealand that served dinner too! And our hosts actually sported a tee shirt with bluebonnets, their souvenir from a visit to San Angelo, TX a few years prior!

  4. You already knew about this and you didn’t tell me??? Some pal you are… (grin). Maybe I can get you to tell me if mine tastes “right”.

    Great story – thanks for sharing!

  5. Wow – I´m impressed! Having had another sniff of the one my mum made, it seems to be very much like your version (or is it your grandmother´s great grandmother´s verion?!) 🙂

    • Can you pinpoint any differences? I do see that yours (or your mum’s) doesn’t have ground sesame seeds and I think maybe next time I will keep them whole as well… I like the idea of a bit more texture. Glad you think I’m close and thanks (to you *and* your mum!) for the idea! Mmmm!!

  6. yes, but can you smoke it?

    • what a pot shot… (grin)

  7. Toasting spices is good, esp. since they have sometimes become contaminated with salmonella!

    • Yikes, really? I didn’t know that… I *do* know that toasting/roasting brings out the flavor, though. Mmmm…

  8. Now this is something creative that will take me out of my comfort zone. I see lots of ways to use this, and my new yiddish word!

  9. Thanks for posting a recipe for this – I’ll have to try making it. I’d had zataar before, but hadn’t heard of dukkah till I read about it on Chica Andaluza’s blog.

  10. I too read this on Chica’s blog. Good that you made it. Being in a small town in Maine, some things are impossible to make. I have everything except hazelnuts which I think I might be able to find.

    • If you tell me what you need, I can ship… anything for a fellow blogger! (grin) It really is tasty. I gave some to a friend who served it to his GF. She apparently cleaned it up before he got out of the kitchen!

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