Dukkah: a complex spice blend new to the kitchen arsenal

By Jillian Bernardini - Dec 07, 2013 - 04:03 PM
Share This Blog

Fun to say, exciting to taste, dukkah is a unique medley of spices that also combines the toasty flavors of varying nuts and seeds. A condiment of Egyptian origin, this Middle Eastern spice mix is one of the most exotic combinations that I have welcomed into my pantry. There is no strict ingredient listing, as the array of spices, nuts, and even the use of chickpeas, can vary on the cook's selection. The texture is not quite a powder, but a more rustic, slightly coarse mixture that still contains not wholly ground seeds.

Discovering my first jar of dukkah at Bacco's wine and cheese shop in Back Bay, a local brand out of Winchester, MA crafted by a mother-daughter team whose family is originally from Egypt. Lydia's Handcrafted Foods etches the date of each dukkah jar's origins on the bottom label with a warning to purchasers, "Nutty and earthy, Dukkah is 100% addictive." I could not agree more. 

With a predominant almond and sesame seed base, Lydia's dukkah combines coriander, cumin, and other secret spices and herbs all blended by hand. The aroma is intoxicating. Even after closing the jar, the essence of the dukkah remains on your fingertips and can almost transport you to her family's traditional Egyptian kitchen.

After providing the most inticing of details regarding the origin of dukkah and my favorite brand, I can provide a few tips and ideas for how to use this new culinary condiment. Mixing some of the dukkah into breadcrumbs for a more complex seasoning on chicken breasts is one of my delicious attempts. 

Use dukkah as a dipping condiment with olive oil and pieces of bread, or as a garnish on vegetables. I also sprinkled some into my leftover French onion soup, which added a pleasant spice note to the broth. 

Stirring a generous spoonful into a crudite dip or a savory herbaceous yogurt sauce for meats or vegetables. Simply think of the flavor profile of the dukkah on its own and decide if the intensity of the cumin, sesame, and nuts will enhance or complement the dish.

The spice blend is exciting, and something new that can liven up a usual entree or antipasti platter. Let me know of other brands that are delicious or how to use dukkah in a unique way!