the taste space

Egyptian Eggs with Dukkah

Posted in Breakfasts, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on September 3, 2010

I don’t think I have devoured any cookbook this quickly, nor this ferociously.

I borrowed Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun from the library and I literally was drooling as I read it from cover-to-cover.  As the title would suggest, it focuses on the spices of the Eastern Mediterranean, based on recipes from Sortun’s restaurant Oleana in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is organized by spice group, as opposed to course or meal. I was stopped cold in the first chapter, all about the three C’s: Cumin, Coriander and Cardamom.

I don’t like curry and still trying to figure out which spice harbours that earthy tone that makes me lose my appetite. For a while I thought it was coriander, so I had been avoiding it. However, Sortun’s description of coriander had me wooed. She described it as bright, citrusy, acidic and perfumey. I knew I had shunned coriander unfairly.

I set off investigating dukkah (DOO-kah, say that just for kicks!), an Egyptian spice mix with nuts. There are countless recipes for dukkah, some with hazelnuts, pistachios, and/or almonds, different proportions of sesame seeds to coriander and cumin, with optional add-ins like mint, lemon zest and chili flakes. My curiosity was piqued by Sortun’s recipe since it included almonds with coconut. I knew I would love the sweetness, so I flexed my forearms, armed and ready with my mortar and pestle.

Once I had roasted the nuts and spices, ground them together, I snuck a quick taste. I wasn’t immediately enamored. I decided to hold judgement until I had finished assembling my meal.

Inside Artichoke to Za’atar by Greg and Lucy Malouf, there was a recipe for deep-fried soft-boiled eggs covered with dukkah and served with a side of toast. They also mentioned that a plain soft-boiled egg could work easily as well. Anyone who knows me well will know that I don’t like to fry my foods, so I was eager to try the easy, soft-boiled eggs with the dukkah. I toasted some bread, topped it with butter, added the egg and smothered it with dukkah. Only then did I listen to my taste buds. By the end, I was licking my plate as I didn’t want to waste any of the dukkah, it was that good.

They were simple sides, a toasted, buttered sourdough bread with a soft-boiled egg, but it made all the difference with the dukkah. Dukkah is a warm, sweet, salty, and slightly earthy spice mix that mixed best with the butter from the bread and the silky egg.

Traditionally, dukkah is served with fresh Turkish bread with olive oil for dipping. Ana paired hers with a carrot puree that I would like to try next time. Dukkah is very versatile, so I look forward to trying it with other meals.

Until then, I will be content to eat eggs and toast with dukkah for any meal of the day. :)


This is my submission to the 11th Mediterranean Cooking Event, featuring Egypt this month.

Egyptian Eggs with Dukkah

Dukkah (Egyptian Spice Mix with Nuts)

1/2 cup blanched almonds
3 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 eggs
4 slices of bread, toasted and buttered

1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds until golden, about 4 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a work surface to cool, and then finely chop them. If using a food processor, be careful not to overgrind them as this can easily turn into into an oily paste.

2. Put the coriander and cumin seeds in the same skillet and toast, stirring until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a spice grinder and allow them to cool completely before coarsely grinding.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the almonds with the ground spices.

4. Put the sesame seeds in the skillet and toast them over medium heat, stirring until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the spice grinder.

5. Toast the coconut in the skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the toasted coconut to the grinder and let it cool completely.

6. Grind the sesame seeds and coconut to a coarse powder. Combine with the almond and spice mixture and season with salt and pepper.

7. Store dukkah in an airtight jar in the fridge.

8. Bring water to a boil in small saucepan. Soft-boil the eggs for 3 minutes. Cool them down under running water and peel them carefully.

9. Serve the soft-boiled egg with a side of buttered toast and sprinkle generously with dukkah.

Serves 2-4.

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12 Responses

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  1. tobias cooks! said, on September 3, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    Perfectly seasoned eggs. I have never tasted such eggs but they seem perfect. Thanks for participating the event.

  2. Joanne said, on September 4, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    that cookbook sounds amazing! I am going to see if my library has it. I’m so glad you gave coriander a chance. It’s really just cilantro in dried, ground form and it’s one of my favorites!

    Maybe you just don’t like the curry in curry powder…

  3. Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said, on September 6, 2010 at 12:43 AM

    What a great cookbook. I must check it out. Interesting egg dish!

  4. Torviewtoronto said, on September 6, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    looks delicious yummy flavours

  5. Jodi Lewchuk said, on September 6, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    I never, ever tire of eggs but always have an eye out for interesting new way to serve them — I confess to being rather mired in the habit of making them with fresh herbs and cheese. I’m entirely new to dukkah, and it looks delicious, so I see myself giving this recipe a try some weekend soon.

    The post itself brought back fond memories of the five years I spent in Montreal, where my partner and I lived near a lovely Persian cafe that served a spiced omelet with rose petals and pistachios. I’m reminded to reach more often for my spice jars when making eggs!

  6. Kathryn said, on September 9, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    I am definitely impressed- that looks amazing! If you’re interested in entering a Halloween recipe contest, I’d love to see what you come up with! You can go here to learn more about it.

  7. Allie said, on September 21, 2010 at 6:39 AM

    I bet it’s cumin that you don’t like – it’s what gives curries that classic ‘curry’ taste and it’s quite earthy. I’m not a big cumin fan either but I’m gradually trying to make myself come round to the idea!

    • Saveur said, on September 21, 2010 at 4:35 PM

      Hey Allie, Thank you for your comment. It is funny because I thought cumin could be the culprit but I actually don’t mind cumin. Maybe I use it in much smaller doses than what is found in curry powder? I am wondering whether dried fenugreek is bothersome, but I haven’t tried it out yet. The fresh stuff is ok, as far as I can tell. :)

  8. [...] things, it works quite well. My nemesis were coriander seeds, though, which I learned while making dukkah, a sweet-savoury Egyptian spice blend. Oh my! I never knew such small things could give you such a [...]

  9. [...] made my own dukkah and za’atar. Rob made panch phoran to quickly whip up this Cauliflower [...]

  10. […] sure what it is, I have two options: almonzano (unlikely because it doesn’t taste similar) or dukkah. Or something I just don’t remember making, which is also a possibility. Dukkah is […]


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