Dukkah is an Egyptian dry spice blend that has a multitude of uses—as a salad sprinkle, a seasoning on lamb chops, or a dip with bread and olive oil. We serve it with hard-boiled eggs as a pre-dinner bar snack.–Shelagh Ryan
LC Everyday Egyptian Magic Note
To know dukkah is to love dukkah. Just look beneath the recipe to read what our recipe testers had to say about the nutty, nubbly condiment—they simply can’t stop sprinkling said everyday Egyptian magic over this and that. How do you prefer to take your Egyptian magic? Let us know in a comment below.
- mortar and pestle
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF (170ºC).
- Place the hazelnuts and pistachios on separate rimmed baking sheets and roast in the preheated oven for 7 to 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the coriander and cumin seeds in a skillet set over medium heat. Toast the seeds, shaking the pan from time to time, until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Remove the seeds from the pan and crush them using the mortar and pestle.
- Remove the nuts from the oven. Immediately tip the pistachios onto a plate. Immediately wrap the hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel and set them aside to allow the steam to build for a minute, then vigorously rub them in the kitchen towel to remove the loose skins. (It’s okay if not all the skins come loose. Trust us, this is no time to be a perfectionist. Also, this is going to make something of a mess.) Let cool.
- When both the pistachios and hazelnuts are cool, roughly crush them until sorta chunky in a mortar and pestle. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add the crushed spices.
- Place the sesame seeds in the same skillet and return to medium heat. Toast until lightly golden, giving the pan a shake occasionally, at least 45 seconds and up to 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and grind them in the mortar and pestle and add to the nut and seed mixture.
- Repeat this process with the white or black peppercorns.
- Lightly grind the chile flakes in the mortar and pestle and add to the nut and seed mixture.
- Finally, add the salt and mix everything together. The spice blend can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Here’s a fun spiced nut and seed mixture that has a lot of uses. I sprinkled this on hard-boiled eggs as suggested in the headnote. That was fine, but I have other uses I like better. I’ve used it as a crust for pan-fried fish. It also makes a crunchy element in a salad. I think my favorite use for it, though, is as a topping for a cooked grain—I like it sprinkled generously over brown rice or millet as it adds textural variation and seasoning at the same time. Yet another use for it is a red lentil soup—top the soup with a dollop of seasoned yogurt and then the nut and seed mixture for contrasting texture. Keep the nuts rather coarse, as you want a crunchy texture and a mix of sizes. Note that the recipe calls for fine sea salt. I found the saltiness to be about right using a very fine-grained salt. If you use coarse salt, you’re going to have to increase the amount by quite a bit. The roasting and subsequent towel-rubbing gets most, but not all, of the skins off the hazelnuts. I decided I don’t care if mine are perfectly skinned. I think you could make this in a food processor, but you will still need to grind in batches, and you would need to be careful not to over-process. You want pretty large nut pieces in there. I think it’s a lot easier to control the texture in a mortar and pestle, and texture is really the whole point of this mix.
I can see how this spice has become so popular. It’s easy to make and can be enjoyed in many ways. We tried dipping bread into it with olive oil, which was delicious—there was a nice heat with the underlying taste of coriander and cumin and a good crunch from the seeds and nuts. I also tried sprinkling it over a salad, but the flavors were lost. I think it would be wonderful on meats. The only thing that didn’t work well was rubbing the hazelnuts clean. I rubbed and rubbed but wasn’t able to remove much of the hazelnut skins. I used my food processor instead of a mortar and pestle on the nuts.
This is the type of recipe we love, love, love—ancient flavors but that are new to us with endless uses (and gift possibilities, too) and an aromatic, heady warmth that fills the kitchen as you’re making it. We have a smallish marble mortar and pestle, which I suspect is not the most efficient way to make this. All told, this recipe only took us about 25 minutes. I can imagine this being a 15-minute project or less with a food processor, though it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. One of us did the toasting while the other did the pounding and smashing. The scents of the warmed spices and roasted nuts and seeds, the pleasure of adding each of the ingredients and pounding a bit more and inhaling and adding and pounding again, all made for a delightful project. We used roasted shelled pistachios from Trader Joe’s. Using a kitchen towel to rub off the hazelnut skins worked. We served this right away with warm bread, good olive oil, and fruit for a completely satisfying late-night snack, and we ate and chatted away as we imagined many wonderful ways to enjoy this mixture: on hard-boiled eggs; over rice or farro with olive oil and avocado; with fish; and with steamed artichokes (on the menu for tomorrow).
If you have not previously been acquainted with this wonderful condiment, don’t delay! There is a lot of flexibility here. If you are missing one or several of the ingredients, proceed with what you have. If your pistachios are already roasted, proceed with them. Same with the sesame seeds. There is no reason to remove all or even some of the hazelnut skins. Any color or combination of colors for the peppercorns would be fine. Don’t like heat? Feel free to leave out the crushed chile flakes. Need more heat? Add more crushed chile flakes! To me, the use of the mortar and pestle, however, is key. If you want to make the process electric, be very careful about over-processing. The chunky texture of this recipe is essential, and it would be very easy to create a nut meal or nut butter instead of a condiment simply by mixing beyond the roughly crushed stage with a food processor or electric spice grinder. It’s hard to think of anything this wouldn’t enhance. Here are a few ideas:
on bread after dipping in olive oil (and that bread could be a pita, baguette, ciabatta, sliced, torn, or whole)
on raw vegetables after dipping in olive oil
atop or tossed into salad
on cottage cheese
and the best one of all…by itself!
This is the type of spice blend I love to make and try, as it can be used in a variety of dishes. I was not as much of a purist as I should have been and used a food processor for blending the spices. The trick of using a towel to skin the hazelnuts is what I’ve always done, and it works beautifully, though you still end up with a big mess of skins all over the place. I could smell this blend right away and wanted to try it, so I poured some extra-virgin olive oil from Tunisia and dipped bread in it—wow, the flavors had really come together, and you could taste the nuttiness. I can easily see making it spicier next time, though if serving to children, I would leave it as is. I also tried it over a salad and loved how it made a boring salad take on that wow effect. If using the spice blend only on salads, I would like the nuts not to be chopped as much. I’ve yet to try broiling chicken coated in this mix. Can’t wait.
I was not so long ago charmed by the addition of the Middle Eastern spice mixture za’atar to some potent olive oil in a Lebanese restaurant, so I hoped that this recipe would follow suit. It’s quite similar yet distinct in its subtlety and nuttiness, and did indeed make for a great accompaniment to baguette slices and oil. It requires a bit of work for such a simple recipe, but the labor could be expedited greatly by using a food processor rather than mortar and pestle, and using hazelnuts with the skins already removed, if possible. Also, I ended up toasting the various spices for about the same time, so I wonder if you could toast them all together if paying close attention so as not to burn them. Next time I’d add a tad more salt and heat, per my preferences. I bought some swordfish that I plan to sprinkle the dukkah on later this week and will also try adding a bit to my egg salad. I think it would be a fantastic addition to a savory yogurt dip as well. Essentially, you could add it to just about any blank slate for a little class and flare. Sadly it took me about an hour to make this (50 minutes hands-on), though 20 minutes of that was trying to scrape off the skins from the hazelnuts. Eventually I just threw the lot in, partial skins and all, and that seemed fine. I’m sure it would’ve saved a lot of time had I used my food processor instead of my mortar and pestle, but I halved the recipe so there wasn’t quite enough yield to reach above the blade.
Originally published April 05, 2015