Dukkah is the new chevre, if its unfailing presence at Sydney farmers' markets is any indication. This tumble of nuts and seeds may not appear appetising, but one crunch of the stuff is enough to make your nose ooh at the roasted aromas, your tongue tingle at the multiple textures, and your tastebuds sigh at the nutty goodness with which it has been blessed.
A traditional Egyptian spice, the ingredients for dukkah remain at the carefree whim of the spice-grinding chef. Usually it contains hazelnuts, although sometimes there may be macadamias, chickpeas, pistachios or almonds. Essential partners include the ground-up seeds of sesame, cumin and coriander.
This was my first attempt at making dukkah, an ambition buoyed by the optimistic belief that surely it couldn't be that hard to make, and cemented by the mental calculation of its price per kilo versus the raw ingredient price if I made it myself (ie. I am cheap). The first recipe I tried was from Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion which ended up very cumin-y and not very hazelnutty, so I made some significant tweaks, mainly adding a lot more hazelnuts. I'm still not totally happy but it'll do for now. It's the kind of thing that every person will want, and should, adjust to personal taste.
1 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
freshly ground black pepper
Roast the hazelnuts in the oven at 350F / 175C for about five minutes taking care they don't burn. Whilst they are hot, rub with a tea towel to remove any excess skin and allow to cool.
In separate batches, dry roast the same seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in an unoiled frypan until fragrant.
Using a food processor, grind the seeds to a coarse textured consistency (or as you prefer). Do the same with the hazelnuts, taking care to pulse the processor as a precaution (you don't want hazelnut butter). I like my hazelnuts extra chunky but maybe that's just because I'm prone to greed.
Combine ingredients in a bowl and season to taste. Adjust ingredients if necessary.
How to eat dukkah
Most people enjoy dukkah as a dip. Dip fluffy wads of fresh turkish bread into olive oil (white side down) and then dip into a bowl of dukkah mixture for a crunchy coating. I've been using avocado oil with great success, as it adds a creamy, almost sweet flavour. Dukkah and bread is quick for easy snacking and classy enough for any socialite's pre-dinner party nibbles.
Dukkah can be used as a rub, marinade or crust for chicken, fish or lamb. Or it can be scattered on pizza bases, rice, eggs, noodles, pasta, vegetables, crudites and salads. Okay, it goes with anything. And everything. I'd stick with savoury though.
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7/17/2006 11:35:00 p.m.