Some time ago, we traveled to Egypt to discover a very special spice mixture. We walked for two days spice markets and shops looking for what they call dukkah (or duqqa), grind or crush in Arabic. It seemed unlikely to get it this way; as the locals informed us, the Egyptian dukkah is rarely mixed and marketed in stores in Egypt. We had to go to the home of a family in the area to know and taste this seasoning wrapped in mystery.
After long walks and with the stomach already restless, in some kitchen of some house in Cairo, we finally had it before us: the authentic Egyptian dukkah. Authentic, because we were in the heart of Egypt, but each cook claims to have the only original formula. The truth is that there is no old recipe that determines “this yes, this no.” So any dukkah is likely to be considered The True, provided it meets a few characteristics.
What is dukkah?
A young Egyptian told us that dukkah spice mixture is formed from a core imperative, consisting of seeds totadas sesame, coriander seeds, cumin and salt. The black pepper is almost certain. To that, we add the special ingredient that distinguishes this mixture from all the others: nuts, such as hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, nuts or pistachios. Finally, in some many variations that come out of the dukkah, we will see chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, mint or marjoram, among a long list of possible additional condiments. As its name says, now that we have all the elements, it’s time to grind the whole.
The result must be aromatic and with earthy and spicy notes, never sweet. One of the most interesting points of this mixture of spices (+ nuts) is its texture, grainy and crispy.
What is dukkah used for?
According to the 1836 book ward William Lane the dukkah was already consumed by the poorest Egyptians. Source of protein and fat available to all social classes, families dipped bread in oil and then in the dukkah , to receive this necessary nutritional contribution.
Such a way of consuming dukkah has been maintained throughout the centuries until our times. For breakfast, as an aperitif or for a snack, dip pita bread or khubz in olive oil and then in the Egyptian mixture is a real delicacy.
If you do not have Arab bread, any of the bars at home will be rich. For an informal snack, the bread cut into thin slices, triangles or canes (depending on the type of bread) is served on a plate. It is an extra virgin olive oil in one bowl and the Egyptian dukkah in the other. If you want the super healthy version, you can replace the bread with crudites.
But there is much more. Try adding it on the hummus. It will create a first layer full of nuances in flavors and texture. The same mixed with yogurt.
Hummus with Egyptian Dukkah
Its use as a condiment includes pasta, soups, salads and, our favorite option, eggs. Sprinkle on scrambled, poached or cooked eggs. It doesn’t matter! The combination is highly floating.
We move on to another sweet form of employment. Spread with olive oil in chicken, fish or lamb before roasting or frying, form a succulent little crust that will make you think with (false) nostalgia in Egypt. It works just as well with some vegetables: pumpkin, carrot, cabbage or Brussels sprouts.
How to prepare dukkah?
You can dukkah Egyptian or make your own mix at home by following this recipe. Best of all, you can create the combination of nuts you like best: pine nuts, pistachios, nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pipes.
Egyptian Dukkah Crusted Chicken Recipe
The recipe has conquered our stomachs and has penetrated our hearts strongly: chicken tears with Egyptian dukkah crust.