Long before the west had ever heard of the fabulous dukkah (doo-ka) mixture, the east had been enjoying this amazing side dish for centuries. In fact, the story of dukkah dates back to ancient Egypt, thousands of years ago, when a combination of nuts, seeds, flavorful spices and herbs were pounded in a pestle to form a coarse mixture which was used as a dip for flatbread dunked in olive oil. And to this day, this amazing side dish is still commonly used in much the same way as it was back then.
The original dukkah mixture was made from dry-roasted nuts, probably hazelnuts or chickpeas, toasted sesame seeds, dried spices such as,coriander,cumin, and herbs from that region like mint, zahtar and marjoram. If you want to make your own version of dukkah, you can use just about any dry-roasted nuts, or seeds as well as your favorite spices. Put the ingredients into a blender and pulse until the mixture is coarse. Now you are ready for dipping some toasted bread into olive oil and then into your dukkah mixture.
Not only is dukkah healthy to consume, its also quite versatile in the kitchen. The strong earthy flavors and texture of dukkah makes the perfect bread crust for fish, chicken or even tofu. It can jazz up any salad, sandwiches and even pizza. Want the ultimate veggie burger? Mix the dukkah into your main ingredient before forming the patty, then grill or barbeque it and you will be in burger heaven.
In the land down under, dukkah has become so popular with the Aussies and Kiwis that it is often found on restaurant tables along with bread and olive oil. Fans of dukkah prefer to eat it in the simplest way, by dipping crusty bread into extra virgin olive oil and then dipping the bread right into the dukkah mixture as they sip from a glass of their favorite vino.
Since both of us have roots in the Middle East, dukkah was a regular food item in each of our households. It is quite natural for us to have a container of dukkah in our kitchen arsenal, especially when we want a quick snack. We like it on our salads and vegetables or even potatoes and rice. We love dukkah as a breading for grilling fish and tofu. If were in the mood for eggs in the morning, we sprinkle some dukkah over the eggs and on the toast after spreading it with olive oil -- it adds crunchiness and flavor to the meal.
Even though dukkah has been around for thousands of years in the Middle East, it still remains largely unheard of in most American markets and restaurants. Were hoping that dukkah will receive the attention it deserves in the U.S. by making its mark on the gastronomical scene as the new, healthy versatile food that everyone can enjoy.
Here are two simple recipes for a great telapia and arugula salad: