My first encounter with dukkah was at my neighbor’s house. She and her husband are world travelers, so it’s no wonder she pulled out this Egyptian spice mix and shared it with me long before it started to show up on restaurant menus across the US.
She served it to us as part of an appetizer. We dipped crusty bread first in olive oil and then in a small bowl of dukkah—a very classy little nibble to have with drinks.
So What Is Dukkah, Exactly?
The word dukkah is derived from the Arabic word for “pound,” as in “to smash.” The ingredients are broken up into small pieces in a mortar to make a crumbly, spicy mix.
This jumble of spices often includes coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds, which are coarsely crushed and stirred into finely chopped toasted pistachios, hazelnuts, and/or almonds. Sesame seeds, dried mint and either Marash or Aleppo pepper often round out the mix.
There are no hard and fast rules about dukkah’s ingredients, since each cook favors their own version.
Where Can I Buy Dukkah?
You can make your own dukkah blend based on the spices mentioned above, or you can buy it. Look for it at Trader Joe’s or order it from few mail order spice companies.
You might also be able to find it at the grocery store, as McCormick’s makes a blend that contains all the key ingredients, too. It’s worth hunting down.
What Are Some Ways to Use Dukkah?
Once you discover it, you will want to sprinkle it on everything from sautéed fish fillets to vegetables (imagine it on a pan of roasted cauliflower!), on top of a savory dish of eggs, or simply stirred into yogurt for tangy dip. It is equally good in all of those applications.
After I encountered dukkah as an appetizer, it made me want to try it in other ways. Chicken popped into my mind as a good contender for grilling: it is quick to prepare with a big flavor payoff, and can be served with toasted pita, hummus, or storebought grape leaves. Any number of Middle Eastern small plates or other salads (Greek salad or fattoush, for example) can go with it to change up the usual grilling routine.
Make This Grilled Chicken With Dukkah!
This is recipe for grilled chicken with dukkah is an easy recipe for any day of the week. Make a lime marinade and set aside some of it to use as a vinaigrette dress the salad. Use the remainder to marinate the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with dukkah, marinate and then grill it when you are ready for dinner. The dukkah mingles with the vinaigrette and all that good flavor goes into the chicken.
Serve the chicken with greens lightly tossed in the marinade you set aside earlier. For extra panache, spread a little hummus on the plate and serve it all with pita bread warmed on the grill.
On a weeknight, I might buy my favorite hummus at the grocery store to save time. I do love to make my own though, and the one I made for this recipe is loaded with lemony tartness. Sometimes I skip the garlic because raw garlic can easily overpower the hummus as it sits. I just love the lemon all by itself!
The combination of tart and creamy hummus, crisp greens, and spicy, crunchy dukkah makes a splendid panoply of textures and tastes—in other words, a feast without too much fuss.
Turn This Into a Make-Ahead Meal
You can make the marinade and hummus up to 3 days ahead, and marinate the chicken for several hours or overnight. Then it’s only a matter of grilling the chicken and adorning it with all the goodies at serving time.
More Middle Eastern Recipes to Try!
Grilled Dukkah-Crusted Chicken with Lemon Hummus
If you aren't in a grilling mood or don’t own a grill, you can roast the chicken pieces in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the chicken pieces in a roasting pan, skin-side up. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF when a thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of a thigh and the skin is golden. Large breasts will take a little longer to cook.
- For the lime marinade:
- 1/4 cup lime juice, from about 2 limes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch black pepper
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 teaspoons honey
- 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
- For the chicken:
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks attached), or 2 drumsticks and 2 thighs
- 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 to 5 tablespoons dukkah, divided
- Oil (for the grill grates)
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional)
- 6 small pita rounds, for serving
- For the hummus:
- 1 clove garlic, finely sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 to 7 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste (from 2 to 3 lemons)
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 1/4 cup water, plus more as needed
- 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- For the greens:
- 3 handfuls of baby arugula
- 1 handful fresh mint leaves
- 1 Persian cucumber, sliced
- Food processor
Make the vinaigrette:
In a blender, puree the lime juice, salt, pepper, oil, honey, and cilantro leaves until smooth. Set aside 3 tablespoons to dress the salad.
Marinate the chicken:
Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with the salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the dukkah. Press the dukkah into the chicken. Reserve the rest of the dukkah for sprinkling on the cooked chicken.
In a bowl, toss the chicken with the remaining marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to overnight.
Make the hummus:
In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, salt, and lemon juice. Let it sit for 10 minutes (this takes the raw edge off the garlic).
In a food processor, puree the garlic and lemon mixture with the tahini until smooth. Add the water and process again. Add the chickpeas, cumin, and oil and puree again for at least a minute, to obtain a smooth texture.
Taste and add more salt or lemon juice, if you like. Thin with water if necessary to create a spreading consistency.
Prepare the grill:
Build a two-level fire by mounding the coals on one side of the grill, and leave the second side empty. When the coals are hot, with a pair of tongs, dip a folded square of paper towel in oil and generously oil the grates.
If you are using a gas grill, heat one side to high heat and the other to medium-low heat.
Grill the chicken:
Remove the chicken from the marinade. Place the pieces on the hot side of the grill with the skin sides against the grates. Cook them for a minute or two—just long enough for the skin to show the grill marks. Turn the chicken over and sear briefly on the other side. Exact timing will depend on the heat of your particular grill.
Move the chicken to the cooler side of the grill. Continue to cook with the skin side up, turning once or twice, until the temperature in thickest part of the chicken registers 165°F.
Transfer to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes. While it is resting, warm the pita on the grill for a few minutes.
Toss the greens with the dressing:
In a bowl, toss the arugula, mint, and cucumber with the reserved 3 tablespoons of the dressing.
Serve the chicken:
On a platter or on individual plates, spread a spoonful of hummus on one side. Arrange the chicken and greens on the platter. Sprinkle the chicken with more dukkah and the pomegranate seeds, and serve.