A celebration of spices, dukkah is a crumbly, earthy, delicious and wildly aromatic blend. The Egyptian ground mixture traditionally contains roasted nuts, seeds, and spices; occasionally a bit of cheese is added, too. Hazelnuts are often used in dukkah (also spelled duqqa or dukka), but so are Brazil nuts, macadamia and other nuts, and chickpeas. Sesame and salt, cumin and peppercorns, fennel, coriander, cinnamon, citrus, and mints all make for delectable dukkah.
Dukkah making is a simple process: roast your ingredients (in a dry pan on top of the stove or in a 400-degree oven) until they're fragrant and lightly browned. (Some cooks prefer to roast ingredients individually, especially if the ingredients require different roasting times for perfect toasting. Others roast ingredients together to save time.)
Let them cool, and then grind them together with a mortar and pestle or food processor. Make them small enough to adhere to bread, but don't over grind; you want a coarse texture, not a powder or paste.
Egyptians make their own dukkah or buy it in markets, where it's sold in paper cones along with pita and olive oil for dipping. Serve yours as a dip for veggies or bread (along with a little bowl of olive oil for dipping into first), or combine it with honey to make a glaze. Use it as a breading or grilling rub for meat, poultry, fish, and tofu. Sprinkle it on soups and salads or roasted veggies or grains. Sweet dukkahs, with a bit of sugar added, are delectable in yogurt, hot cereals, and baked fruit dishes.
Here, from Genie Maybanks at New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City, are some recipes for half a dozen dukkah recipes, along with suggested bread pairings:
Almond-Mint Dukkah combines the spicy bite of black peppercorns with the zest of orange and freshness of mint. The toasted flavors and mild acidity of cracked wheat bread accentuate the mint and orange in this recipe.
Cashew-Red Pepper Dukkah is a lively blend of red pepper flakes, black sesame seeds, fennel and cashews. The creamy interior of Mediterranean bread complements the creaminess of the toasted cashews.
Pistachio-Clove Dukkah highlights the pistachio with the warmth of cloves and the zest of orange. The touch of caraway in pumpernickel bread blends well with the notes of clove and orange.
Almond-Paprika Dukkah pairs dried cherries with almonds, lemon, and paprika. The nutty sesame seed flavor of sesame semolina pairs nicely with the spicy paprika and balances the sweet sharpness of the cherries.
Hazelnut Dukkah is a lively combo of nuts, black sesame seeds, cumin, coriander, black peppercorns, and parsley. The acidity of sourdough bread balances the earthy warmth of the hazelnuts and spices.