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Today’s Special: Dukkah can be store bought, but it’s easy to make at home … and tastes better

By Carole Kotkin • Mar 1, 2019 at 10:06 AM

 first discovered the delicious nut, seed and spice mixture called dukkah (pronounced DOO-kah) when I visited Australia some years ago. I was served a basket of chunky pieces of whole grain bread alongside little dishes of dukkah and olive oil.

The traditional way of eating this delicious and addictive treat is to dip the bread in the oil and then in the seed mixture.

Although it is very popular in Australia, the dish originates from Egypt. Dukkah may be purchased in some gourmet and ethnic markets, or online, but it’s easy to make at home and tastes better with freshly toasted nuts and seeds, and it can be fun to experiment with different ingredients.

The exact ingredients change from recipe to recipe but just about every mixture includes nuts (most often hazelnuts, but various other kinds may be used alone or in combination), sesame seeds, coriander and cumin. To this, you might add dried thyme, mint, peppercorns, or various other sweet, hot and savory herbs and spices.

It is important to toast the nuts and seeds separately before combining with the spices and herbs. The ingredients can be ground coarsely with a mortar and pestle, or more finely ground in a food processor or blender.

It’s fantastic for sprinkling over soups, salads, pasta, roasted vegetables, or dips. It can be mixed with olive oil and brushed on pita or pizza dough, or dusted on chicken or fish before grilling.

Paired with bread and olive oil as I first tasted it, dukkah is a perfect companion to cocktails.

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CAULIFLOWER STEAK WITH BEET TAHINI SAUCE AND DUKKAH

This recipe is by Australian-born Executive Chef Aaron Brooks of Edge Steak and Bar at Miami’s Four Season Hotel.

If you are looking for an exciting meat-free dinner or an enticing side dish, this recipe should certainly deliver. Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay 2016 from Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, Central Coast, California ($19.95) with citrus and stone fruit flavors and lively acidity, beautifully balances out the pungent aromas of the spices and the toasted nuts in the dukkah.

Dukkah

1 cup peanuts

1 cup pepitas

1 cup white sesame seeds

1/2 cup cumin seeds

1/2 cup coriander seeds

6 teaspoons sea salt

3 teaspoons black peppercorns

1/4 cup za’atar (available online or from Mediterranean grocery stores)

Toast the nuts in a 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Toast the sesame, cumin, and coriander seeds separately in the same way. Cool and combine with the remaining ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until a coarse mix forms. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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BEET TAHINI SAUCE

1/2 cup tahini sauce

3 tablespoons cold water

4 whole medium beets, roasted (see below), diced to make 2 cups

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Pinch of salt

Juice of 1 lemon

Place tahini sauce in a blender bowl and start blending. Add the water slowly (water should be cold to prevent the mix from breaking) until the mixture is creamy. Add chopped beets, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice and blend until thoroughly mixed.

To roast beets:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the beets on top of a large sheet of aluminum foil and fold the edges over to create a pouch (the beets should be completely enclosed in foil). Lay pouch on top of a baking sheet to avoid any dripping onto the bottom of the oven and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool. Once cool, remove the beet skins with your fingers (or a paper towel) and discard.

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CAULIFLOWER STEAKS

1 /4 cup butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

I head cauliflower, cut into 4 steaks, 1” thick

1 tablespoon crushed garlic

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped chives

1 lemon

Heat a large skillet and add butter and olive oil. Sear cauliflower as you would a steak. Flip after 2 minutes. Baste cauliflower the butter. After 2 minutes add garlic, curry powder, fennel, cilantro, and chives. Remove from heat and cover for 2 minutes. Remove lid and squeeze lemon juice over cauliflower. Reserve pan sauce.

Spread beet tahini sauce on the bottom of 4 individual plates and cover with cauliflower steak; dress with oil mix in the skillet; top with a liberal amount of dukkah.

Serves 4

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(Carole Kotkin is manager of the Ocean Reef Club cooking school and co-host of Food & Wine Talk on southfloridagourmet.com.)

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