My first day in Australia I was starving for dinner, but it was only 4:30 and the restaurant in my hotel wasn’t open yet. So I went to the “bar” (couches outside) and ordered some homemade bread with olives and this thing called dukkah—I had no idea what it was. The delicious, yummy, squishy whole grain bread came, and next to it was a little pile of some sort of seed and spice mixture. I quickly figured out that you dip the bread in the oil and then in the seed mixture and eat it. YUM!!!! I’m always shocked when I discover things in my travels that are so delicious and that haven’t made it to the States. It makes me feel like a great explorer like James Cook—or better yet, Gertrude Bell or Isabella Bird (look them up for some awesome stories!).
This dukkah had a Middle Eastern flavor to it, but as I traveled around Australia, I realized there are as many versions of dukkah as there are regions of the country. At one health food store (the Happy Frog) in Coffs Harbour, I bought a dukkah that had sesame seeds, pepitas, sunflower seeds, almonds, cumin, coriander, and salt. But when I tasted it, I found it too salty and the sunflower seeds too…health food store–like. The best dukkah I bought by far was at the Royal Easter Agricultural Show in Sydney: It was called “bush dukkah” and included macadamia nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, coconut, linseed, sunflower seed, spices, lemon myrtle, and dorrigo pepper. This dukkah is so good and my kids love it so much, I am going to order lots more and have it shipped to Pennsylvania. You can order it from barbushco.com.au. And it’s organic!!!!
Of course, I had to try to make it myself. When I got home and googled it, I found that dukkah does have Egyptian origins. Since the key flavor in the Australian bush dukkah is lemon myrtle, which I don’t think we have a substitute for here in the U.S. (but OH, what a flavor!), I stuck to the traditional Egyptian version.
The essential thing to know about dukkah is that it’s about 2/3 nuts and seeds and 1/3 spices (or half and half), and each of those should be toasted separately and then merged. The ingredients can be ground coarsely (with a mortar and pestle) or more finely. It’s a creative food-lover’s dream dish! Explore it and experiment! It’s also a good way to get some healthy seeds and spices into your diet—although I will warn you, turmeric will stain your cutting board and maybe even your dish.
Here is my recipe, but please try your own.
- ¼ cup macadamia nuts
- ¼ cup hazelnuts
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 2 Tablespoons coriander
- 2 Tablespoons fennel
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 1 Tablespoon pepper
- 1 Tablespoon turmeric
- 2 Tablespoons coconut
- Grind up and dry-roast the nuts.
- Dry-roast the seeds and spices.
- Mix together in a bowl
- Store the mixture in the refrigerator.
Serve your dukkah with great bread and awesome olive oil, and you have a perfect snack or appetizer!
By the way, the dukkah on the left in the picture is the bush dukkah; the one on the right is my homemade.