Not all dips need to be liquid. Za’atar (a herb based dip common across the Eastern Med & Middle East) & Dukkah (a nutty dip that originated in Egypt) are 2 common examples of dry dips that are served alongside toasted flatbread & a small bowl of oil as a starter or as part of a mezze. Just dip the flatbread or pitta in the oil, in the dip & pop in your mouth!
They are also good store cupboard staples – you can use both as a crust for meats (such as a rack of lamb), as a topping for ‘liquid’ dips such as hummus to add some texture, or in Za’atar’s case, put on top of flatbread before baking to add a nice flavour.
I tend to make Za’atar in small quantities, as a means of using up the remainder of a bunch of thyme I’ve bought for some other recipe – I just place them in a single layer on a baking tray in a turned off oven after I’ve finished cooking something else – just let the residual heat do the work for you. My recipe reflects this – just increase the quantities proportionally if you want to make some to store. Both can be stored in a glass jar in your spice cupboard for a couple of months.
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried marjoram
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp sumac
½ tsp salt
Put a skillet / frying pan on a low heat & allow to warm up. Put the sesame seeds in the skillet & toast them -you’re looking for them to start to pop & turn a golden brown colour. Tip out & allow to cool.
Mix the sesame seeds well with the rest of the ingredients – & that’s it!
1 tbsp cumin seeds
3 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp pink peppercorns (black pepper also works – just use ½ tbsp.)
2 tbsp sesame seeds
½ tsp salt.
Preheat your oven to 220 °C / 200 °C fan / gas mark 7. On a baking tray, spread out the hazelnuts & bake for 5 – 10 minutes, until they take some colour (the skin will go black -don’t worry, this will be removed). Remove from the oven & cool slightly. Remove the skin by placing in a clean tea towel & rubbing them (or you can do this in smaller batches in your hands) then just picking out the hazelnuts. Place in a bowl.
Put a skillet / frying pan on a low heat & allow to warm up. Dry fry the spices one at a time – you’re looking for them to take on a bit of colour, pop & start to release their fragrance. When done with one spice, tip onto the bowl with the hazelnuts & start on the next. Allow them to cool.
Place the hazelnuts & spices in a food processor along with the salt. Pulse the mixture until it’s fairly fine grained (where the largest pieces are about the size of a grain of rice) – be careful not to overdo this part, as otherwise the oil in the seeds & spices will form into a paste – you want this to remain a dry dip.