At this time last week I was in Mexico City, eating churros for breakfast. I was there for just five days – plenty of time to explore and unwind – and by the time I boarded the plane for home, my brain was literally bursting with ideas for weaving this delicious place into my kitchen at home.
The next morning, my suitcase burst open as well, with all the dried chilis, herbs, teas, moles and special ingredients that I brought back. And, before I can figure out how to weave my new flavors from incredible experiences there into my own cooking, I have to squish the new goods into my pantry. Typically, I have to use up a few little jars of things before I can add anything new so, I really like to make dukkah — basically a spice/nut/seed mix. The coconut dukkah recipe below is just one riff on this favorite pantry staple.
I live for this sort of thing – learning about ingredients and techniques from new cultures and then weaving them in with the way I cook at home, creating a whole new way to eat. But, like you, probably, I’m pretty time-poor. Even with years and years of professional cooking under my belt, the meals that come together on a regular basis are quick, easy, fresh-forward, and made special with special condiments, salts and little flourishes like this dukkah. Sometimes, the most valuable lessons and ingredients I work in are just that – a new spice, a simple ingredient or creative technique that infuses interesting flavors. This dukkah is one of those that I discovered in travels through North Africa and the Mediterranean a few years back and it’s become my version of an “everything-spice mix.” Dukkah can be sweet, savory, earthy, spicy…and literally become EVERYTHING sprinkled over breakfast toast, on sweeps of yogurt and over salads. In the Mediterranean, it’s common to enjoy it as a condiment with bread and olive oil. (First dip the bread in the olive oil, then dip in dukkah, and take a crunchy + flavorful bite!) That said, eating with bread and olive oil would be a completely brilliant way to use this dukkah if you like.
One note on the chamomile: you can likely find this at a well-stocked natural grocery store or your local apothecary. It’s easier to find than you think! You could also use chamomile tea in a pinch. I love the way whole chamomile flowers look when sprinkled on a plate, but the flavor is very earthy. I suggest crushing the flowers so the flavors incorporate more easily.
Don’t be intimidated by the exotic sound of this recipe; the components and process here are ridiculously simple. Toast coconut, toast nuts, crumble and enjoy! I do hope you fall in love with this concoction, but more than that I hope you use this recipe as a jumping off point for other dukkah concoctions because you can really make them with anything you have on hand. I love almonds, pumpkin seeds, fennel seed, coriander seed, cumin, curry and wild thyme as an earthy way to jazz up the Hummus Toast at the Rapha Boulder Café, and a coffee, paprika, hazelnut concoction is particularly dreamy sprinkled over grilled corn, as a topping to leafy greens with juicy steak, or even over yogurt with crackers and olives.
I’ll have some of the highlights from the trip to share in a few days, but in the meantime – I hope you’re adding all sorts of special little flourishes to your meals this week – it makes even little moments a bit more special and beautiful!
- 1/2 cup white sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, crushed with a mortar + pestle
- 1 tablespoon raw cashews
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- 2 teaspoons dried chamomile flowers, whole or crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- It's not compulsory to toast the cashews or sunflower seeds to make a great dukkah, but it will deepen the flavor of these ingredients. If you choose to toast, preheat the oven to 350°F. If you want to skip this step, leap to the mixing part below.
- Spread the cashews and sunflower seeds on separate sides of a baking sheet. (Do this in case your sunflower seeds toast faster than your cashews and you need to remove them!) Bake until just barely golden, checking often - 4-7 minutes. It's likely that the sunflower seeds will toast faster than the cashews, so pull them out and set them aside in this case!)
- Once toasted, cool the nuts and seeds slightly, then chop roughly.
- In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix until well blended. Store in a sealed container at room temperature for 3-6 months.