Thursday, November 09, 2006


After a tiring day travelling with camel, Arabs would gather around a small fire roasting spices, nuts and seeds, and finally crushing them into a coarse powder. They would then take hunks of bread, dipping them first into olive oil, and then into the dukkah to satisfy their hunger. Today dukkah may be enjoyed from Egyptian street vendors.

A small paper cone is filled with dukkah and given to the customer along with strips of pita bread, which are dipped into the vendors bowl of olive oil and then into the dukkah in the traditional way. Each vendor has a unique dukkah recipe and is fiercely proud of his own combination of traditional and regional flavours.

[quote from seasoned pioneers]

the first time i had this was years ago late at night sitting around a table talking, and of course eating a latenight snack, with my schoolfriend zina & her parents who were originally from cairo. this condiment used traditionally to dip into fresh pieces of pita as noted in the above quotation, is also common in other middle eastern countries besides egypt [gulf states for example] and is popular with [egyptian] middle eastern jews. Fayza Hassan wrote a short newspaper article in al-ahram about duqqa and her memories associated with it.

duqqa can be spelled in a variety of ways and can have different grinds, from quite coarse to very fine. you will see it as dooka, dookah, douka, doukah, dukkah, etc. i have also found it called du'a. whatever way you spell it, it's all basically the same with minor variations on the same theme. what is common to this mix is the use of nuts & spices and an herb of some sort.

chef and author magda el-mehdawy wrote a book called my egyptian grandmother's kitchen which became a best seller in egypt. the site has an article about her and she gives magda's recipe for her version of duqqa which uses small chickpeas [channa [desi] dal] & za'atar. read about the author and see some of her other recipes.

dukkah is also popular in australia. my adventurous & intrepid friends brought back a package on their last trip and talked about its popularity there. the ingredients are a bit different and sound like they would be incredibly good together. check out how popular it is with all these variations, if you don't believe me.

here are various ideas for using duqqa and if you don't want to make it yourself, buying it from the hotchick spice company.

from the food network here in canada, this is a alternative version using turmeric & almonds or this one using macadamias, sunflower seeds & coconut.

i also found a recipe for duqqa croutons here. they could even be cut up into small crouton cubes and used in a salad.

whether you use it to adorn your pita, garnish your hoummus or sprinkle it atop grilled fish, it is something not to be missed. give it a try.

read a fun article about ancient egyptian bread-making where sand ultimately became part of the recipe.


aja said...

Hey BB,
Which of these do you like the best???
And thanks for the great blogging! 8^)

burekaboy — said...

hi aja - i think i am kind of liking the one[s] using pistachios. hazelnuts don't do it for me. the one called du'a seems simple & good also.

Asha said...

Very interesting article!Being a Indian,I have been very curious about Arab dishes these days,found many similar dishes. Of course we probably got many of the dishes from Arabs anyway!:)

I recently made Umm Ali , a Egyptian dessert and LOVED it.Also made Turkish Imam Bayildi,will post both next week.

Thanks for that link for the book.

burekaboy — said...

hi asha - glad you liked the article and link to the book. i always like finding interesting new things like this.

yes, middle eastern/arabic cooking had a big influence on indian cookery though i'm sure it went both ways ;p

i look forward to seeing your posts about umm ali and imam bayildi, both very popular recipes.

thanks for the comment.