I’m sitting on the couch, cross-legged, woolen socks on. It’s late afternoon, raining outside, low grey skies, seeping damp. Both of the kids are asleep. I’m balancing a milky cup of earl grey tea and a thick slice of banana bread on the couch armrest. Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook is open on the table in front of me – I’m planning Swiss Chard Fritters and Mejadra for dinner tonight.
A moment of calm in the chaos.
And now, without further ado, dukkah. Dukkah is a beautiful spice mixture. It is fragrant and heady, complex and comforting. There are probably as many variations as there are makers of dukkah; the key is to get the right balance between the nuts and the spices so that it has both body and flavour. After trial and error, this is the version that I love best. I do still play around with it – a touch of lemon zest, some dried hot chilli, a pinch of thyme – but the recipe below is a great base.
I like to have staples on hand so that when I’m throwing together a quick salad or grain bowl I can jazz it up with the least effort – toasted almonds, spiced pepitas, citrus-y salad dressings, za’atar. At the moment though, this Pistachio Dukkah is what I’m finding myself reaching for the most. It is endlessly versatile – on poached eggs, in salads, as a dip for bread and good quality olive oil, over roasted veges. In these deep winter days, a good dose of dukkah will warm even the coldest heart.
This makes a powerful amount of dukkah – I prefer to make it in big batches so that I can give jars away as presents, but if you’re making just for yourself, you can easily halve the amounts. If you’re making it in a mortar & pestle (my preferred method) don’t worry about a few larger chunks – it keeps things interesting!
3/4 cup hazelnuts
3/4 cup pistachios, shelled
2/3 cup coriander seeds
2/3 cup sesame seeds, black or white
1/4 cup cumin seeds
2 tbsps black peppercorns
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp dried mint
2 tsps nigella seeds
1/2 stick cinnamon
Heat oven to 180°c/350°f. Place the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking tray, and roast for 10 minutes, or until fragrant, golden brown, and skin-crackly. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely. Once cooled, remove the skins.
Hot tip: easiest way to remove hazelnut skins is to wrap the roasted nuts in a tea towel and rub together until the skins come loose.
In a pan over a medium-high heat, dry roast the coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds for just a couple of minutes, until fragrant. Leave to cool.
Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until combined to the consistency of crumbs, taking care not to turn into a paste. Alternatively, pound all of the ingredients together in a mortar and pestle until crushed and combined.
Note: if using a mortar & pestle you may need to do this in 3 or 4 batches.
Keep in a sealed container for 4 – 5 weeks.