Dukkah

As I’ve just finished making a fresh batch of dukkah spice for a workshop I’m running at the weekend, I thought I would share it with you – it is such a handy little mix to have in the kitchen. When discussing a new project with Claire Macdonald over lunch the other day, I was delighted to see her sprinkle it all over her restaurant-cooked food!

Derived from the Arabic word for ‘to pound’, dukkah (duqqa) is prepared by pounding the ingredients, using a mortar and pestle, rather than grinding so that there is texture as well as flavour in the spice mix. For a quick, traditional Middle Eastern snack, you simply bind 2 tablespoons dukkah with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and dip chunks of warm, crusty bread into it.

As a regular kitchen spice, it is delicious tossed through stir-fried or roasted vegetables; combined with oil or melted butter it makes a fabulous dressing or sauce to drizzle over grilled and roasted meat, poultry or fish – just add a little finely chopped preserved lemon and parsley and you have the taste of North Africa in a few seconds; or simply sprinkle the dry mix over quick snacks like fried or poached eggs and fried hallumi while they are still in the pan to get the maximum flavour

4 tablespoons hazelnuts
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons fine chilli flakes
2 teaspoons dried mint
1-2 teaspoons sea salt

Dry roast the hazelnuts in a heavy based pan until they emit a nutty aroma. Tip them into a clean dishtowel and rub off any loose skins. Using a mortar and pestle, crush them lightly to break them up.

Dry roast the coriander, cumin, fennel, and chilli flakes together, until they emit a nutty aroma, and add them to the hazelnuts. Crush them all together lightly so that they are well blended but uneven in texture – some almost ground to a powder, others in crunchy bits.

Stir in the mint and sea salt to taste and spoon the mixture into a sterilized, airtight jar. Keep the jar in a cupboard, away from direct sunlight. The fresh roasted, nutty flavours will last for 4-6 weeks then they begin to fade.