Dukkah is a mixture of spices, nuts, and seeds that originated in Egypt. Like every other regional spice mixture, this seasoning blend has found its way onto genre-pushing menus in Cairo, Beirut, and Doha.
This article explores the ingredients, uses flavor, and benefits of dukkah, also the best substitutes for dukkah.
What is dukkah?
Dukkah (pronounced doo-kah) gets its name from the Egyptian Arabic word for “to crush” or “to pound,” that is precisely how this condiment is made. It’s a versatile seasoning blend often sprinkled on as a garnish; a ready-to-eat flavorful condiment that brings crunch to dishes that need a little texture.
Dukkah is often served as topping on a variety of dishes like grilled vegetables, scrambled eggs, or fried fish. Sprinkle this spice mixture over salads or add it to labneh or yogurt dip. For a savory flavor, simply combine dukkah with olive oil and sprinkle it over your pita bread.
What is in dukkah?
A traditional dukkah recipe has ingredients like coriander, cumin, sesame seeds, dried herbs, peanuts, and kosher salt. In addition, hazelnuts, almonds, walnut, or pistachios may be included in it. Some blends of dukkah may also include optional ingredients like black pepper, cayenne pepper, fennel seeds, mint, or marjoram. On the whole, it’s an adaptable mixture and you can experiment to find a version you love.
There isn’t a uniform texture profile for this Egyptian condiment; ingredients can be coarsely crushed or powdery.
What does dukkah taste like?
The taste of dukkah varies according to the ingredients used, especially, the different nuts have the strongest influence on its overall taste profile. The traditional blend of dukkah tastes earthy and bold enough to complement a wide range of foods. The spices like cumin, coriander, and peppers give it a mild heat and tanginess.
Uses of dukkah
This versatile stuff is a worthy all-purpose seasoning that every kitchen shelf should have, especially for those who enjoy the Egyptian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Use it as a snack with bread and olive oil, as a crust for your meat, or as a nutty topping or rub anything from fish, chicken, or roasted vegetables to soups and salad. In Egyptian-style gourmet, a common snack is the pita bread/ khubz dipped in olive oil before being dunked in dukkah. This Egyptian condiment can give a crunchy texture and nutty complexity to dips like yogurt, hummus, or labneh; perk up vegetables and salads. Use this blend of spices and nuts as a rub for different meats like chicken, beef, or lamb.
Just like many Australians love to do, you can just eat dukkah on its own. If it’s made with coarse or partially crushed nuts, then it can be nibbled on like a bar snack. In many parts of the Middle East and Egypt, dukkah is packaged in paper cones and sold as a snack.
Best substitutes for dukkah
Have you run short of this Egyptian seasoning? Looking for a dukkah substitute?
If you are in Egypt or the Middle East, ready-to-use dukkah is commonly sold in grocery and snack shops. In most places, it’s available from online vendors. But if you are unable to get it immediately or prefer to use something else, you may consider any of the below-listed dukkah substitutes.
Tsire, also known as suya, is an African spice blend used for coating kebabs. This spice blend with ingredients like peanuts, ginger, and red chilies along with salt is popular in Nigeria and Ghana. As different variations exist, tsire may include additional ingredients like cinnamon and cloves, but peanut remains a constant ingredient. Tsire is a good substitution for dukkah for they have a similar nutty, warm flavor and can be used in similar ways.
The Japanese seasoning blend Furikake, mainly used for flavoring rice dishes, is very similar to dukkah in flavor. Incidentally, you’ll find many varieties of furikake with few differences in ingredients. It includes ingredients such as roasted sesame seeds, shiso, sugar, and others. Use furikake instead of dukkah exactly in the same ways.
3. Chaat Masala
Chaat masala, a popular Indian spice blend, is used for adding flavor to fruit salads made with papaya, apples or bananas, or sprinkled on fruit, egg toasts, boiled potatoes,
and others. The ingredients like cumin, chile powder, and coriander in chaat masala give a warm flavor akin to dukkah.
Zaatar is another frequently used spice mixture from the Middle East that has sesame seeds and herbs like thyme, oregano, and savory. Zaatar and dukkah are a lot similar in uses and flavor. It’s often used on grilled meat, sprinkled on hummus, or used as bread spread (flatbread/kubuz) in combination with olive oil. Zaatar is a good substitute for dukkah for both have sesame seed as the base ingredient that renders a nutty flavor.
Is dukkah the same as Zaatar?
Dukkah and zaatar are very different though they share a few common ingredients. The key ingredients in Zaatar are a family of culinary herbs like thyme, oregano, marjoram, and savory. Besides these herbs, it includes roasted sesame seeds, dried sumac, and salt.
Zaatar lacks the strong nutty flavor and warm taste of cumin and coriander in dukkah. Dukkah is more of a crunchy blend of nuts and spices and lacks the herbaceous flavor of zaatar. Dukkah is a real textural treat with nutty dominance while zaatar is overwhelmingly herbaceous with slight crunchy nuttiness rendered by sesame seeds. However, sesame seed is the prominent ingredient in both these mixtures.