I’m a sucker for trying out new varieties of spice mixes. I can stay up as late as 2 a.m. looking for a certain ingredient that is to go into a spice mix that I plan to make the next day. I can (and do) empty the entire kitchen cupboard at that odd hour looking for that elusive pack of organic white sesame seeds that I bought just that evening so I could whip this up.
Incidentally, that says a lot about my organisational skills, doesn’t it? I have a reasonably clean kitchen cupboard. The only problem is, I can never remember where I put what. This despite the fact that I have, supposedly, categorised my ingredients into multiple boxes (many of them see-through) depending on their functionality!
So, coming back to the sesame seeds, I finally quit my search for sesame seeds that particular night (or should it be day?) last month at around 2.30 a.m. (yes!), putting it off for the next day. The following day, while I was readying my son his morning glass of milk, I was quite surprised to see him sitting at one place doing something with utter concentration. I was curious. You see, the only time my two-year-old ever sits in one place for over 12 seconds at a stretch is when he’s sitting in his err…potty!
So I walk up to him with the glass of milk in my hand and I see sesame seeds strewn all around and my son patiently working at putting back each seed into the torn packet. I later “remembered” I’d kept the pack on the dining table (very conveniently for my son!) so I could effortlessly start work on readying the Dukkah! Not that it took much time. Let’s leave the story of how I cleaned up and readied my son for his playschool for another day.
The dukkah spice mix is easy enough to make. Just some roasting and grinding and it’s all done in about 30 minutes. Reading up online, I gathered that this Egyptian spice mix is something of an all-pervasive mix with varied usage – as a crunchy topping for soups, as a condiment for hearty meat-laced stews and even as an impromptu evening snack!
Like our garam masalas and sambhar powders, there’s no one recipe for this one. Each region and household makes up its own depending on their tolerance of the various ingredients that go into it. In its most basic form, Dukkah is essentially a mix of nuts and sesame, coriander and cumin seeds in varying proportions. One might add some dried herbs or warm spices like cinnamon and/or cloves or even some dried red chilli or black pepper to add heat to the mixture. I’ve followed the recipe featured in The Kitchn.
I first got attracted to Dukkah when I first saw a pretty picture of dukkah-laced savoury cookies posted in a food group on Facebook. And it was to make those cookies that I actually made this mix. I must confess that I have, so far, used it only in the cookies and random snacking (where it does a wonderful job!). It is a lovely blend and I hope to top some soups with it soon!
The flavour of the cookies as a whole is pretty unique too. Ma de with gram flour, these are actually more crackers than cookies. Thanks to the strong flavour of the gram flour coming through, it felt like eating a baked version ‘ribbon pakoda’, which is a traditional Tamil fried snack made of gram flour. I noted the recipe down in my notebook, but forgot to make note of the source.
Nuts – ½ cup (I used a mix of walnuts and almonds)
Sesame seeds – ¼ cup
Coriander seeds – ¼ cup
Cumin seeds – 2 tbsp
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Toast nuts and seeds in separate batches. Allow to cool
Place all ingredients in a food processor or in the dry jar of a mixer-grinder and pulse
I left the mixture somewhat coarse, but you can make it into a fine powder if you wish
Store in an airtight container
Here’s the recipe for Dukkah crackers
Gram flour – 1 cup
Oil – 3 tbsp
Red chilli powder – ¼ tsp
Dukkah – 2-3 tbsp
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 175 deg C
Take the gram flour, red chilli powder and salt in a wide bowl
Add oil and knead till it forms a pliable dough
Roll out into a thin large rectangle, the thickness of a regular roti
Cut out circles that measure 2-3 inches across
Sprinkle a little dukkah on each cookie and light press on it with your forefinger
Place on a cookie tray and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes depending on how crisp you want them. Take care not to burn them
Remove, let cool and store in an airtight jar
Yesterday, I had posted an Easter savoury pie from Cyprus, called Flaounes.
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