Variety is the spice of life they say. I know this to be true, quite literally. Thanks to my Asian background I have grown up on an amazing variety of spices and spice mixes like different kinds of curry powder, dry herbs, marinade mixes and even Dukkah. My grandmother’s kitchen had an array of racks where she kept all her spices (stored quite “rustically”, no fancy containers or glass jars and what not) and these would be crushed to make different kinds of spice mixes using a Sri Lankan version of a mortar and pestle, a unique piece of hardware that most people out there wouldn’t be familiar with. It was a really heavy, thick, rectangular slab of rock/granite and another equally heavy grinding rock shaped like a rolling pin (which I fondly remember attempting to use, key word being attempt). Growing up, the meals we ate had a lot going on in terms of the spices that went in to seasoning the food and it helped me develop a broader palate for those flavours.
Back to Dukkah (or Duqqa) though. This isn’t a spice mix that I grew up on however. The first time I tasted Dukkah was in Lismore, Australia (where it’s quite popular) a few years ago, at the Thursday evening market they used to have in the city. From the moment I got to sample some for the first time, I was hooked. I can’t find a spice mix like that where I live now, so I have resorted to making my own Almond-Chilli Dukkah Seasoning.
Dukkah or Duqqa (pronounced DOO-kah) is a spice mix that originates from Egypt and it’s a mixture of herbs, nuts and seeds. Dukkah means “to pound” in Arabic as the spice mixture is pounded or pulsed together after first being toasted (see recipe below). I love the aroma, the smokiness of the cumin, the herbiness of coriander, the subtle milky and nutty flavour of almonds and their crunch and the toasted flavour of sesame seeds. I like the heat, so naturally I add some chilli powder, but you can of course omit that if you wish.
Almond-Chilli Dukka Seasoning
- 1/2 cup roasted almonds
- 4 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 5 tbsp cumin seeds/ 4 tbsp ground cumin
- 3 tbsp coriander seeds/ 2 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp chilli powder adjust to your preference
- 1 tsp salt flakes I used Maldon
- If you are using spice seeds, place them on a dry pan and toast them on low-medium heat until you start to smell them. If you are using ground spices, do the same thing, but be careful as they burn more easily. You just want the spices to release their aroma slightly.
- Place the spices - toasted cumin, toasted coriander, chilli and salt (not sesame seeds) in the food processor and pulse until it you have chopped them fairly fine.
- Add the almonds (chopped if you prefer) and process further until you have coarse almonds pieces and the the spices are fine.
- Remove the spice mix and mix in the sesame seeds.
- Store in an airtight container.
This is a very versatile spice mix indeed.
- I don’t eat chips (or crisps as they’re known in Australia) a lot, but when I do I love mixing them with some dukkah spice sometimes.
- I have sprinkled dukkah on chicken, lamb and even salmon and it tastes absolutely amazing every time! Equally amazing on vegetables too.
- And may I suggest dukkah seasoning with some crusty bread, olive oil, cheese and some good wine? Incredible!
To help you make that call, here’s an amazingly delicious and healthy dinner idea using this spice mix, Dukkah Spiced Grilled Chicken with Tabbouleh. This is a fantastic recipe packed with intense flavours, so go ahead and check it out! 🙂
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