Duqqa is an Egyptian side dish consisting of a mixture of herbs, nuts, usually hazelnut, and spices. It is typically used as a dip with bread or fresh vegetables, and eaten as an hors d’œuvre. Pre-made versions of dakka can be bought in the spice markets of Cairo, with the simplest version being crushed mint, salt and pepper which are sold in paper cones. The packaged variety is found in markets that is composed of parched wheat flour mixed with cumin and caraway.
The word is derived from the Arabic for “to pound” since the mixture of spices and nuts are pounded together after being dry roasted to a texture that is neither powdered nor paste-like. The actual composition of the spice mix can vary from family to family, vendor to vendor though there are common ingredients, such as sesame, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. Reference to a 19th-century text lists marjoram, mint, zataar and chickpeas as further ingredients that can be used in the mixture. A report from 1978 indicates that even further ingredients can be used, such as nigella, millet flour and dried cheese.
Duqqa is now becoming popular in some countries outside of Egypt. In Australia several companies now make it in a variety of flavours. It has become popular in the past ten years, probably due to recent Lebanese and Arabic immigration as well as television cooking shows. It can be found in supermarkets, specialty stores and many farmers’ markets.
- 2 tablespoons whole hazelnuts
- 1 ½ tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- Pulse all dukka ingredients in a food processor or an electric coffee/spice grinder until very finely ground, about 3 minutes (do not grind to a paste).