Category Archives: Essentials

Dukkah – The King of Spice Blends

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There are days where the craving for freshly made dukkah is so strong that I find no satisfaction till a batch is roasted, pounded, and then eaten whilst still warm. 

It has to be said, possibly the best way to enjoy duukah is with bread and extra virgin olive oil. It certainly is the way I most often consume it. But I also value dukkah for its versatility. Once I have a batch made the remainder stores well and can be sprinkled on vegetables before roasting, used as a seasoning to salads, dusted on to meat or fish before cooking, it can be used in dressings, added to yoghurt… I find it such a useful flavouring for so many things that is a staple in my kitchen.

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I prefer my dukkah made with hazelnuts. Added to the roasted spices of coriander, cumin, sesame, and black pepper, I add dry roasted hazelnuts (this saves roasting and peeling them). You can swap the hazelnuts for pistachios, or for a less authentic offering, macadamia nuts also makes a nice blend.

I’ve used a mix of black sesame and white sesame seeds because I like the contrast. Plus, I had them in the cupboard – they needed using up. But generally white sesame seeds are the go. The remaining, and just as important ingredient, is sea salt. And it should be sea salt, don’t swap this for any thing else.

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The recipe has deliberately been kept to a smallish amount so you use the dukkah up while it’s fresh. It’s so simple to make and really takes no time at all, and can and should be made regularly.

Egyptian dukkah 

Ingredients 

1/4 cup dry roasted hazelnuts

1 tbsp white sesame seeds

1tbsp black sesame seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

1/2 tsp sea salt

Place the sesame seeds, spices and peppercorns into a fry pan. Roast them on a medium heat till the spices begin to sizzle and pop – don’t walk away at this stage as it won’t take long.

Roughly chop the dry roasted hazelnuts and place in a mortar and pestle with the roasted spices and sea salt; alternatively use a spice grinder. Pound or grind to a coarse consistency – remember to keep it chunky. Check seasoning.

Serve with fresh Lebanese bread and extra virgin olive oil. Store remaining dukkah in an air tight container in the pantry for 2 weeks.

(C) Copy right: Food From Michelle’s Kitchen 2016 Egyptian dukkah

Masala Chai – My Way

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I’m not a purest, and I can’t tell you this is a truly traditional recipe for masala chai (India’s favourite spiced tea) , but it’s kinda close, and it’s utterly delicious.

Making a cup of chai has become a ritual different to coffee making. It offers a heart warming pick-me-up that I find irresistible when I’m feeling flat. I like it strong with spices and sweetened with honey. And now that I make my own spice mix I can never go back to store bought chai tea bags, they just don’t cut it.

I’ve used cardamon pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, dried ginger (you could try fresh), black pepper corns and star anise to make my version of masala chai. It can be pounded in the mortar and pestle, but a spice grinder will make quick work of the job. If using a spice grinder keep it to a chunky consistency.

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This amount will make a medium size jar of the spice mix, which will make about 30 cups of strong chai, or even more cups if you like it a a lesser strength. It’s easy to double or triple the recipe of the spice mix for larger amounts, and it stores well for several months in an airtight glass jar.

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Masala chai – my way

Make a special trip to a good spice store were you know the spices are fresh.

Ingredients 

10g cloves

20g cardamon pods

40g cinnamon quills

20g dried ginger (also called kibbled ginger)

2g black or white peppercorns

15g star anise

Combine all the spices, place in a pan and roast over a dry heat for several minutes, set aside to cool. Place the spices in a mortar and pestle and pound to a fine consistency, or use a spice grinder to do the hard work (don’t grind it too fine though). Store the spice mix in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.

How to make 2 cups of chai

Place 1 tbsp of the spice mix in a small sauce pan with 2 tsp good quality black tea leaves. Add 1 1/2 cups of cold water, bring to the boil, set aside to steep for 3 minutes. Place back on the heat, add 1 1/2 cups milk and heat till almost boiling. Remove from the heat, add 2 tsp honey, stir till dissolved, then strain the chai through a fine sieve and serve in large mugs.

How To Activate nuts

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I’m excited about activated nuts. Not just because their goodness can be more easily absorbed by the body after activation, but because they taste so good!

I’ll tell you a bit about the health side in a minute, but activated nuts have a depth of flavour I’m not sure any other roasted nut can deliver. Have you tried them?

Basically, activated nuts become ‘activated’ after being soaked in salted water for 12 – 24 hours, then drained and slow dried in a low oven, or dehydrator.

Put simply, soaking the nuts increases the nutrient content by breaking down the enzymes that inhibit the bodies potential to absorb the good stuff from the nuts. These same enzymes also build up and can make digestion sluggish. See, there’s good reason to this time consuming method. After the soaking, and slow drying, the nuts are’activated’. The body can draw more nutrients from them and digest them easier too – sounds good to me!

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This method will work with all types of nuts. Almonds are incredibly popular to activate and so are macadamia nuts, and brazil nuts. Some of the drying times will vary though with the different nuts so it’s best to soak and dry them separately.

Plan ahead. Get your nuts soaking for 12 – 24 hours, and then be home on a day where they can slowly dry out on the lowest heat your oven can muster (about 65C) That’s it! Work done! They’re worth the wait.

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 Activated pecans and walnuts

Ingredients 

300g organic walnuts

300g organic pecans

2 tsp salt

Water to cover

To serve 

1 cup organic sultanas or organic raisins – optional

Place walnuts in a large bowl, cover with water, add 1 tsp of salt and stir till dissolved.  Repeat the same process with the pecans, soak them in a large separate bowl with the remaining salt. Set both bowls aside on the kitchen bench and soak for 12 – 24 hours ( I soaked mine for 12 hours, but have also been told, up to 24 hours is better for releasing more nutrients).

Once soaking is done, set oven to the lowest setting – 65C. Drain nuts well. Line two trays with baking paper and spread nuts onto separate trays, dry for 6 – 8 hours (mine dried for 6.5 hours and were perfect). Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely before storing in air tight containers.

For a sweet healthy snack – take 1 cup of cooled walnuts, 1 cup of cooled pecans and mix with 1 cup of organic raisins or sultanas.