While I love experimenting with different spices, I must admit to resorting to a handful of tried-and-tested spice mixes for many of our meals: garam masala for instance for curries, or ras-el-hanout for meat rubs. So you’ll see there was a fair bit of self-interest when I set Spice Mixes as the theme for the last Spice Trail challenge; I was after a little spicy inspiration for new meals to try out with different spice mixes I’ve never played with before. And as ever my fellow food bloggers didn’t disappoint. Here follows a sensational selection of spicy dishes that are guaranteed to get your own culinary creative juices flowing or, at the very least, your mouth watering…
I discovered the delights of dukkah not so long ago at a great little pop-up restaurant in Frome called The High Pavement Evening Cafe, which I was rather excited to see will re-open later this year. Also written duqqa or dukka, this spicy Egyptian side dish consists of nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, toasted and then crushed up together to create something so simple and yet so incredibly delicious. I’m amazed I haven’t come across it before.
It was served to us at the start of our meal at The High Pavement as an accompaniment to bread alongside oil and vinegar. I was instantly hooked. When I tried making it myself at the weekend, I served it the same way. Homemade bread dipped in oil, then vinegar and then dukkah is just so, so good.
Admittedly I made it a little too spicy for the children and they weren’t impressed at all. Next time I’ll go a little easier on the paprika and perhaps they’ll get into it too. It is perfect finger food after all. But my husband and I got well and truly stuck in.
I found a hundred and one different ways to make dukkah on the internet; it seems to be the kind of dish you can play around with – lots. According to Wikipedia it’s typically made with hazelnuts but I didn’t happen to have any of those, so I went with almonds and walnuts. But you could use pistachio or just about any other type of nut you fancy really.
Similarly there are a hundred and one different ways to use dukkah. Sprinkle it onto salads and soups, over hummus and soured cream, use it as a crust for fish or a rub for meat, or as a topping for flat breads. I took some to work in my packed lunch the other day, bringing to life an otherwise boring cheese roll. It is very versatile.
40g chopped almonds
40g walnut pieces
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp white mustard seeds
3 tbsp coriander seeds
1½ tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp paprika (you may wish to adjust if serving to children)
Dry fry the almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds in a hot frying pan until they just begin to turn a darker, golden colour. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
In the same pan, toast the fennel seeds for half a minute, then add the cumin seeds and toast for a further 30 seconds. Pour these into a bowl, separate from the nuts and sunflower seeds.
Next add the mustard and coriander seeds to the pan and toast for a minute or so, before tipping into another bowl.
Reduce the heat a little and toast the sesame and caraway seeds until the sesame starts to change colour. Place in yet another bowl.
Crush the fennel and cumin seeds in a pestle and mortar, before placing in an electric grinder along with the almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds. Give them a quick whizz until you achieve a rough crumb texture and then pour into a bowl.
Lightly crush the mustard and coriander seeds in the pestle and mortar and add these to the dukkah bowl, followed by the sesame and caraway. Season with the salt and paprika (go easy if you have kids) and mix well.
There it is – you’re done. So, how will you eat yours?