On a recent visit to the Piedmont region of Italy every farm seemed to have a hazelnut orchard where vines were not growing! The fresh produce markets had the most beautiful hazelnuts and hazelnut oils, so guess what was added to our already bulging cases! (Where other girls buy shoes in Italy I buy nuts …. ) I also saw hazelnut pasta, and regret not buying some.
When I see hazelnuts my mind immediately wanders to dukkah.
Dukkah is a nut and spice mixture originating in Egypt. Nowadays it is widely enjoyed in the Middle East where it is eaten as a snack when chunks of bread are dipped in olive oil and then the spice mixture.
I use Dukkah sprinkled over roast vegetables or to enhance a chicken or fish dish by adding this exotic middle Eastern flavours.
I sometimes add chilli flakes to add another dimension. Finely grated orange or lemon zest also marry well with Dukkah, especially if you are using it in poultry or fish dishes. This evening I had a piece of left over roast chicken for supper, a sprinkling of dukkah elevated it to something indescribably satisfying.
I always have a jar of homemade Dukkah in my pantry in the winter as I just love the versatility of the warm spice flavours.
250ml hazelnuts, roasted & skins removed*
150ml sesame seeds
2-3 T corriander seeds
2-3 T cumin seeds
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp good quality salt
If the nuts and sesame seeds have not been pre-roasted, then place them on a baking tray and heat at 180°C for about 15 minutes, alternatively place in a dry frying pan on a hot plate, stirring the nuts until they have a pale gold colour. Watch it as it can easily burn.
Many recipes advocate that you chop the nuts in a food processor, you may do so, but I like chopping them by hand as I am able to control the coarseness, hence the crunch!
Place one third of the nuts, half the sesame seeds and the remaining ingredients into a food processor or a spice grinder. Whizz for a few seconds only (you don’t want to draw out the oils to form a butter!)
Add the remaining chopped nuts and sesame seeds.
Store in an airtight container.
*To remove hazelnut skins, place them on a baking tray in a 200 degree Celcius oven for 10-15 minutes. Place the hot nut in a clean tea towel and rub it between your hands, the skins will flake off and can easily be separated from the nuts.