Do you need a flavor punch for your next meal? Dukkah is an Egyptian spice blend that can be used as an ingredient in many Middle Eastern dishes. It adds a spicy, nutty flavor that is balanced by a citrusy undertone. A crumbly and crunchy texture makes it ideal as a topping for meat, flat bread, and cooked vegetables or mixed with yogurt to make dips like labneh.
If you don’t have dukkah on hand or you want a different flavor, then you’ll need a replacement option. Keep reading to get our favorite dukkah substitutes for any occasion.
What are the best substitutes for dukkah?
To replace dukkah in the kitchen the best option is to make your own mix using everyday nuts and spices. Other spice blends you could use include Tsire, Furikake, or Ras el Hanout. For a nut-free option that’s packed with spice try Za’atar. Any dukkah substitute won’t closely mimic the original flavor, but it won’t be out of place in most recipes.
1. Homemade dukkah
Making dukkah at home is fairly easy as most recipes use common ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. An authentic blend combines walnuts, hazelnuts, cilantro seeds (aka coriander seeds), sesame seeds, cumin, black pepper, and salt. Pistachios and almonds are also a tasty, colorful addition to dukkah.
One of the best things about making dukkah at home is that you can experiment with different combinations. A dukkah recipe can be customized to suit your taste buds. For adventurous cooks, spice up the dish with some chili pepper and a generous dash of smoked paprika for a more intense flavor.
Tsire, or suya, is a spice blend that makes a useful alternative to dukkah. Thanks to the addition of crunchy peanuts, tsire can be used in similar applications as dukkah. Use it as an ingredient or sprinkled on top of dishes before serving. It has a delicious nutty flavor and is made up of ingredients like peanuts, chilis, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Tsire is popular in Eritrean and Ethiopian cooking, used to coat beef kebabs.
In most countries, you’ll find it difficult to find tsire, but the best place to look is a Middle Eastern grocery store or online. Specialist spice stores will also carry tsire.
Za’atar is an Arabic spice mix that works well as a substitute for dukkah with its earthy lemon flavor and aroma of thyme. It is a great option if you’re cooking for someone with a nut allergy.
Keep in mind that Za’atar contains sumac which provides a tangy, lemony flavor, while also containing a blend of spices like cumin, cilantro, and chili pepper. It’s a flavor bomb which may be too much for people that don’t enjoy spicy food.
Like dukkah, most Za’atar recipes will also include toasted sesame seeds. It can be found easily in Middle Eastern grocery stores or online at places like Amazon.
Related reading: What are the best sumac substitutes?
Furikake is a Japanese spice blend that contains ingredients like dried bonito flakes and sesame seeds. Like many spice blends, the ingredients can vary depending on the region. A recipe may include sugar, seaweed, or shiso.
Furikake can be used for sprinkling on rice dishes or as a topping for soups and salads. It is typically found in Japanese grocery stores or online at sites like Amazon.
5. Ras el Hanout
Ras el Hanout is a Moroccan spice that is used in a lot of different dishes from lamb and chicken tagines to couscous. It is an exotic blend that contains a melange of spices, like red pepper flakes, cloves, cumin, ginger root, and cinnamon sticks. The ingredients are typically ground before being mixed and used in cooking.
6. Cajun Spice Blend
To add a hot, spicy feel to your food, try using a Cajun spice blend. This is a great addition to any dish that needs a little kick, like gumbo or red beans and rice. It can be used to replace dukkah as an ingredient, but it won’t work well as a condiment.
4 Tips for making perfect dukkah
- The best way to take your cooking game up a notch is to buy whole nuts and spices, grinding them yourself in a mortar and pestle. The process of combining these ingredients takes only minutes but the effect on the senses can be overwhelming!
- Dukkah can be easily made ahead of time and stored until you’re ready to get cooking.
- Toast the fresh nuts and whole spices before you grind them. Once toasted, they release aromatic oils that fill the kitchen with mouth-watering smells. It only takes a few minutes to pan fry the spices so be careful not to overcook them.
- If you’re not feeling adventurous, store-bought dukkah is a good option. It is easy to find in the spice aisle of your local grocery store or you can purchase it online.
Frequently asked questions
How do I use dukkah?
Dukkah is a versatile ingredient that can be used for cooking or as a topping for dishes. It is used to season and garnish many of the classic Egyptian dishes like falafel, hummus, and koshari. The spice blend can be mixed into dressings for salads or stirred into pasta to give it more flavor.
Where can I buy dukkah?
Dukkah is often sold at specialty grocery stores or Middle Eastern markets.
How do I store dukkah?
Once opened, dukkah can be stored in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks. Sealed, store-bought products should not need refrigeration until opened. It is best served at room temperature.
Is Dukkah and Zaatar the same?
Zaatar is a mix of crushed dried herbs that are mixed with sesame seeds, marjoram, oregano, thyme, and salt. It is commonly used in the cuisines of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. Dukkah has a similar flavor profile but contains different ingredients like nuts and spices such as cumin, coriander, or fennel seeds. It had a crunchier texture than Zaatar.
- Dukkah is also known as Du’ah, Duqqa, Dukka, and Do’a.
- Other less common additions to dukkah include mint, chickpeas, nigella, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
- When dukkah is combined with oil it makes a delicious paste that can be spread over crackers and bread.
- Fish pairs well with a combination of dukkah, fresh herbs, and lemon juice.
- Dukkah is traditionally eaten at the end of Ramadan with bread and olive oil.
- The word “dokka” means to pound or grind in Arabic, “to grind” in Swahili, and “to knead dough” in Amharic.
- The spice blend originated as a way for Egyptians to use up their olive oil and coriander.
As you can see, there are plenty of tasty substitutes for dukkah. It is important to understand that no dukkah substitute will taste the same as dukkah, but they are still delicious in their own right.