I am not a chef or a recipe writer. I’m also not usually the kind of cook that prepares a meal without a recipe. Occasionally, though, circumstances force me to flex culinary muscles I didn’t know I had...
Dukkah is something I was first introduced to once I started cooking for my partner and I, early on in our relationship. We both have a fondness for scrambled eggs. One morning, as I was searching his cupboards looking for something to spice them up, I happened upon a little plastic clamshell from a place called The Kitchen Porch. I pulled it out and asked, “What’s this?”
“It’s dukkah,” he replied. “It’s really good in eggs, actually. Throw it in!”
Those eggs were so, so good. I couldn’t get over how much I liked the CRUNCH. Who ever heard of crunchy scrambled eggs?!
Dukkah, I learned, is derived from the Arabic word for “to pound,” and is a blend of chopped nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. Most often attributed to Egypt, it’s usually mixed with oil, as a dip for bread, or used as a topping. There are countless versions of dukkah, to my understanding. No two regions or even families make the exact same blend.
Scrambled eggs with dukkah became our go-to breakfast most mornings, so we ended up going through a lot of the stuff. I tried several different store bought blends, everything from Trader Joe’s to Kalustyan’s, but most just tasted stale, or didn’t contain the amount of nuts that I had come to love. Nothing rivaled what we would buy from The Kitchen Porch.
The trouble was, it wasn’t the easiest thing (or the cheapest thing), trying to stay stocked up on the The Kitchen Porch’s blend. They are a small catering company based in Martha’s Vineyard, which we really only visit one weekend each year. We’d brave the farmers market crowds to buy as much as we could from them, but it was never enough. And trying to order online from them wasn’t exactly reliable, either. It was a small operation, and shipping spice blends was not the main focus of their business.
Side note: This was a couple of years ago. I don’t want my honesty here to deter you from placing an order with The Kitchen Porch, should you want to try any of their products! It looks like they’ve really revamped and ramped up their website. I was just looking into their virtual cooking classes the other day, actually.
So, after running out of the good stuff one too many times, I decided to hack the recipe. All of the ingredients were listed on the container, and presumably in order of concentration, from largest to smallest. I first tried to find a recipe with a similar blend of ingredients, but nothing that I looked at really came close. So I used the recipes as a reference point to get a sense of what quantities I should be working with, picked up everything listed on the package, and gave it a whirl.
It took several iterations to get to my current recipe, but I’m quite pleased with where I landed. I should warn you, though, that making dukkah involves just a few more steps than tossing a bunch of stuff into a container. But the extra steps are relatively simple and totally worth it!
- 1/2 cup raw, unsalted pistachios
- 1/2 cup raw, unsalted almonds
- 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp nigella seeds
- 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
- 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
- 1/2 tsp urfa chiles
- 1/4 tsp dried mint
First, you’ll want to toast the raw almonds and pistachios. I put both together in a dry skillet, and turn the burner up to a low-medium heat. You can toast them in the oven, but I always manage to burn them that way, and it’s only 1 cup of nuts. Seems silly to turn on my oven for such a small amount.
I toast them for about 6-7 minutes, making sure to shake the skillet or give them a stir every minute or so. At about 4 minutes, you should be able to smell them. You want them to be fragrant, but not really darker in color, so be sure to keep a closer eye those last couple of minutes.
Once they are done, I toss the nuts into my food processor, already fitted with the usual metal blade. Pulse the machine 2-3 times to partially break down the nuts. You want them to be more like chunky gravel, and not too fine, as you’ll be chopping them further later.
Alternatively, you can always chop them by hand!
Next, it’s time to toast the seeds. Toss the coriander, sesame, nigella, cumin and caraway seeds into the same skillet you used for the nuts. I also like to turn the burner down a bit, since the seeds will toast much quicker than the whole nuts.
I toast the seeds only for 2-3 minutes, and I watch them pretty closely. They can burn quickly. Again, you want them to become fragrant, but not to darken too much in color. You’ll probably also see and hear some popping in the skillet!
Once the seeds are all nice and toasty, toss them into the food processor with the chopped nuts. Pulse everything together another 3-5 times, until it’s a texture and level of fineness that you like.
I used to toast the nuts and the seeds together, and toss everything into the food processor at the same time, but I found that my nuts were always too chunky and the spices too powdery. Pre-pulsing the nuts isn’t an exact science, but it produces a much more consistent product.
In whatever container you plan to store your dukkah in, add the last remaining ingredients – the marjoram, urfa chiles and mint. Then add the chopped contents of your food processor. Give everything a good stir or shake, and that’s it! You’ve made dukkah!
If the blend is still warm from toasting, I’d let it cool a bit before sealing up the container. Depending on how finely you chop everything, this should yield about 1 cup.
If you’d like to give it a try, but aren’t quite sure how you’ll use it, I highly recommend this dukkah sourdough recipe from The Clever Carrot. It could be just the thing to mix up your bread routine these days!