Pickles, preserves, dressings and pastes

Pickles, preserves, dressings and pastes

By
Suzanne Zeidy
Contains
20 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742708027
Photographer
Jonathan Gregson

Dukka

A colloquial term derived from the Arabic word meaning ‘to crush’ or ‘to pound’, dukka is a delicious toasted Egyptian spice mix that seems to appear in some form or other at every meal. Breakfast eggs are dipped into it, a little metal bowl’s worth is offered with a lunchtime plate of fuul, while bread is placed down at an evening meal of mezza next to dukka and oil to dip.

Dukka (or dukkah, du’ah or duqqah) is a warm, aromatic spice mix made by toasting seeds, spices and nuts together. It is Egypt’s equivalent of Lebanon’s za’atar, which also includes wild thyme and sumac. Each family or spice shop has their own blend, but common ingredients include sesame, coriander and cumin seeds, toasted to bring out their flavour and aroma, then blended with toasted nuts, often hazelnuts or peanuts. The unique combination is crushed with salt and pepper in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder to a coarse mix, which has more texture than a powder and is perfect for dipping and sprinkling.

Dukka can be bought in the old spice market of Islamic Cairo. The tightly packed family-run shops all toast and blend their own versions in the sun-starved passageways. The ingredients are taken from the bags and barrels of spices and seeds, leaves and powders, imported from all over the world, but especially India and China, which are stacked up behind battered metal scales, the air coughing-thick with cumin and chilli.

Egyptian cooking is generally not chilli hot and the use of spices is quite subtle, with hot chilli more often served as a paste or sauce than stirred into a dish as it cooks. Cumin is one of the most important spices, which, along with coriander, flavours the ubiquitous vinegar and chilli sauce that accompanies koshary. The warming spices of cloves, cardamom and cinnamon are also popular in cooking. Egyptians love to spice up their food to taste and tiny plates of one or two ground spices are often served on the side of dishes with salt and black pepper to add as you wish.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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