It’s crunchy dip time – Za’atar & Dukkah


Za'atar (on the right) & Dukkah, with some olive oil & pitta

Za’atar (on the right) & Dukkah, with some olive oil & pitta

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.

 

Za’atar

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!

 

Dukkah

100g hazelnuts

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.

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