Dee – Dukkah is a savoury blend of nuts, seeds and spices. As with so many other condiments which appear in Jerusalem’s kitchens, almost everyone who prepares it has their own preferences as to ingredients and quantities. I think at last count I have about five recipes for it. The essentials however, are the nuts and spices. It can be ground as finely as desired, but no so much so as to turn it into a paste.
It originated in Egypt, and a few years ago I saw a television documentary in which an Egyptian restaurant owner said “Egyptian cuisine without Dukkah is not Egyptian cuisine”. There, it is used as a spice in cooking, as a garnish for salads or in its simplest form, and my personal favourite, with bread dipped in olive oil and then the Dukkah.
It also appears in the cuisine of the Palestinians living in the Gaza strip, where it is known as ‘Dugga’. The Gazan variants tends to have a longer list of ingredients and add dried chillies, toasted and ground pulses and lentils to the mix.
The recipe on page 300 of Jerusalem leaves out the chillies, lentils and pulses but still contains quite a large number of ingredients, thus combining elements of the Egyptian and Gazan versions. I’m not keen on the peppercorns in this version, but Jay loves them, so they stay. My preference when making Dukkah is to leave it quite crunchy, so as to allow the different ingredients to retain their individual tastes.
It was the featured ingredient from December 2014 but sadly, the recipe for the Dukkah itself is the only appearance it makes in the book, so it was necessary to look further afield for a meal to feature it in.
I finally settled on a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe entitled Bruschetta with Dukkah, Egg and Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, which was featured in the Guardian at the end of October last year.
The Dukkah was used as a garnish to a poached egg which was served on the tomatoes which topped the toasted bread. It was a very simple but very effective recipe. I was especially fond of the slow roasted tomatoes, which included a selection of different types of tomatoes, slow roasted with sliced garlic and fresh oregano, then left to cool before being mixed with sun- dried tomatoes. I was pleased to have been able to use the last of the oregano from our garden.
The recipe called for Sourdough bread, but I instead used some walnut bread which I’d baked earlier in the week and needed using up. It was a fine accompaniment to the other parts of the dish; the walnuts adding a few extra pockets of flavour.The two slices of toast, single poached egg and a couple of teaspoons of dukkah made for a perfect lunch.
“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ebury Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to omgyummy.com following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook Page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest”
(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site. The US details are provided on the omgyummy.com web site)