Fennel, hazelnuts, paprika, fleur de sel, black pepper, freshly ground


Fennel, hazelnuts, paprika, fleur de sel, black pepper, freshly ground
Dukkah ingredients

Toasty. Crunchy.  Spicy.  Simple. Exotic.

That’s dukkah, the Middle Eastern blend of toasted nuts and spices that makes people stop in their track to ask “What IS this gorgeous mixture?”

I discovered dukkah when I was working on Nuts in the Kitchen, where it is part of the recipe collection. My cooking students had been talking about it and I began to read up on it.  The word dukkah . means to crush or to pound, and apparently it is a blend that originates in Egypt where it was traditionally made in a mortar and pestle.  That said, it is a dish that transcends political borders in the Middle East, and can be found there in many countries.

I stumbled across it in the flesh at, of all places, the Portland, Oregon farmers’ market.  I realized it was not only delicious but trendy, I tested it and fell in flavor-and-texture love, so of course I put it in the book.  When I served it as part of an array of appetizers at a party with friends in Louviers one of them, Ziad who is from Syria, let out a yelp of delight  when he tasted it.  “Why are you serving something I ate every day as a child?” he asked.  When I told him he laughed at the irony that I, an American, made the first dukkah he’s tasted since he fled Syria for France twenty years ago.  Food as cultural link….!

endives, dukkah, hazelnuts, spices
Dukkah with Belgian endive, oil, fleur de sel

Dukkah stars in Middle Eastern cuisine, where it is eaten the way I generally serve it: with crudités and bread that are dipped first in a beautiful olive oil, then in the dukkah.  It sticks, of course, and its spicy nuttiness enhances whatever you’ve dipped into it.  I go further with dukkah by sprinkling it on a salad,  on a fillet of steamed fish, over steamed or braised vegetables.  Honestly, if you’ve got dukkah in your pantry (keep it in a cool, dark place), you’ve got a meal, because it enhances everything it touches, from carrot to cracker!

Dukkah is great for the holidays, and perhaps you’ll want a copy of Nuts in the Kitchen to go with it!

I think it’s perfect at the holidays, too, because it fits into every holiday party, breaks the cycle of sweets, and is so simple to make that you can have it ready in almost minutes.  And, it makes a terrific gift, in a pretty jar with a tag of serving suggestions (which you must try first!).

Since the day I made that first batch, Dukkah has  always in my kitchen because I like having tasty, exciting “elements” on hand with which I can make an impromptu meal, or simply serve as an appetizer.   I vary the nuts, and the herbs and spices, so that it is never quite the same. That way, when friends have it they’re always surprised, and I am too – I simply never tire of it. Since it’s full of nutrients, it’s also responsible for me feeling virtuous. There is, quite simply, everything right about Dukkah.

Or then again, remember that grilling is great all year!

I’m giving you a recipe for dukkah with hazelnuts, which are traditional along with almonds. They also happen to be my favorite nut, perhaps because I’m from Oregon where they are cultivated, but maybe just because they have such a gorgeous sweet, rich and round flavor. You can try almonds, and cashews work too, but you have to be careful when processing cashews, as they turn to butter quickly!   I vary the spices, too, using what appeals or what I have on hand. Here is my suggestion:  make this recipe then adapt it to your own taste.  And watch out! You may become an addict…

Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
7 mins
Total Time
22 mins
  • ¾ cup hazelnuts or almonds
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seed
  • 3 tablespoons cumin seed
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 2 tablespoons coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 scant teaspoons fleur de sel or fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Toast the hazelnuts or almonds in the oven until they begin to turn golden and smell toasty, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and, is using hazelnuts, transfer them to a paper bag or a tea towel which you must close around the nuts so they steam slightly and their skins blister away from the nuts. Note that hazelnuts tend to roast unevenly, and you may need to return some of them to the oven to continue roasting. When the hazelnuts are cool, rub them in the towel or bag to remove as much of the papery skin as possible. For almonds, they toast more evenly and do not need skinning.
  3. Place the sesame seeds in a heavy skillet and toast them over medium heat, shaking the pan constantly, until they turn golden and smell toasty, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan, and repeat the process with the pumpkin seeds
  4. Place the coriander seeds in a small, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and toast just until they begin to smell fragrant, about 45 seconds. Remove from the heat. Repeat with the cumin seeds. Repeat with the fennel seeds.
  5. Place the hazelnuts, sesame seeds, and the salt in the work bowl of the food processor and pulse until the nuts are coarsely chopped. Add the seeds, the pepper, and the paprika and process until the mixture is finely ground. Be careful not to over process so the nuts don’t become oily. Transfer to a serving bowl.


Book Review

Living the Simply Luxurious Life –   is a book to get and give for the holidays, written by Shannon Ables, who lives in the Great Northwest (on the dry side of the Cascades, in Bend, Oregon).

Shannon Ables is the friend we all want right next door, or at least in the same town.  In her latest book, LIVING THE SIMPLY LUXURIOUS LIFE – Making your Everydays Extraordinary and Discovering Your Best Self, she opens up her ideas, advice, and plain old common sense to her readers, on so many subjects.  Want to move, change careers, say “I do,” develop your emotional intelligence, sleep on yummy sheets? Shannon gives you tips on how to think about making such decisions, then clearly outlines ways to go about making them happen.

From the practical to the thoughtful, Shannon thinks, reads, and practices a luxurious life, and she shares her knowledge and insights on page after page of lists, comments, ideas, thoughts, reflections and excellent practical advice.   And while Shannon has a sense of the sweetly (and regrettably) old-fashioned (Thinking Quality Thoughts) she is the thoroughly modern entrepreneur (Be Your Own Brand: Thriving in Your Career).

For anyone who would like a dose of calm and thoroughly contemporary insight into living life luxuriously while focusing on quality over quantity, Shannon Ables’ Living the Simply Luxurious Life is for you.  And be sure to sign up for her blog: Simply Luxurious Life


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