This culinary item had me at “hello.” Wine-Knows took a group to New Zealand last year just before the pandemic knocked the world off its axis. On a private boat charter in search of New Zealand’s prized green lip mussels (the world’s largest), the onboard chef prepared a just-plucked-from-the-sea mussel lunch. Also on the table was a bottle of country’s gold medal winning olive oil and a strange ground mixture that none of us recognized at all. It was dukkah (pronounced duke-ah).
The chef explained that we were to dip the freshly baked bread in the olive oil, and then into the dukkah. One bite and all 15 Wine-Knows’ pairs of eyes were saucer-sized. By the end of the charter we had eaten three bowls full of dukkah and would have eaten four, but that was all the chef had made. So what is dukkah?
Small pieces of pita with dukkah, avocado & extra nuts is a killer app
Dukkah (also spelled dukka & duqqa), is an aromatic condiment made of pulverized nuts and seeds, with a blend of spices and herbs. It comes from Egypt where its name means “to pound.” In Egypt, the condiment is made by pounding all of the ingredients together with a traditional mortar and pestle (however, I’ve discovered that a food processor delivers excellent results).
Ingredients vary from Eqyptian chef to chef but they are combos of these nuts, seeds & spices
Dukkah is made from items commonly found in every Egyptian home:
~ some type of nut (think hazelnut, almonds, and/or pistachios)
~ common herbs such as fennel seeds, cumin
~ sesame seeds
Dukkah has become so popular that is now located in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Even Trader Joe’s has jumped on the Dukkah bandwagon (3.3 oz for < $4), as has the spice giant McCormick. But, if you want the read-deal, blow-your-mind homemade version, watch the video at the end and make your own. It’s easy and quick to make, and the difference will astound you. (BTW: make a double batch as it’s addictive).
Olive oil, dukkah & hummus with a loaf of great bread makes the perfect quartet
There are unlimited ways to use dukkah. Google it and you’ll come up with nearly a half million recipes with dukkah as an ingredient. It can be used in main dishes, as well as with roasted veggies and salads. Dukkah adds big-time aeromatics, great texture and intoxicating flavors. That being said, I love to serve it in the virginal way that I first experienced it----with a great loaf of bread and an artisanal olive oil.