New exciting tastes add exotic flavour to Aussie cooking
THE flavours of the Middle East are familiar to most of us these days but it was not always so.
About the closest we came back in the 80s was the local kebab van that was open until all hours, providing the perfect late-night snack for those of us who had been out on the tiles.
Since those early days, multiculturalism has aided the opening up of Australian palates.
Once-exotic spices like cumin seeds, black nigella seeds, coriander seeds and saffron are now staples in most pantries, while baba ganoush and hummus have replaced the dreaded French onion dip.
Dukkah is a favourite of mine; the Egyptian blend of ground spices, nuts and sesame seeds makes a perfect nibble when served with good bread and a fine extra virgin olive oil for dipping.
It can also be served over scrambled eggs, sprinkled over grilled meats or stirred through cooked rice or couscous.
There are many different recipes for dukkah; I've sampled Australian versions made with macadamias and flavoured with lemon myrtle or native pepper.
If there's a savoury flavour you particularly enjoy, experiment with the recipe below by adding a little of whatever takes your fancy.
Keep notes each time you make it and the changes you make and you will eventually come up with a tailor-made version that is perfect for your tastebuds.
Makes 1½ cups
¾ cup sesame seeds
½ cup roasted chickpeas
¼ cup hazelnuts or almonds or macadamias
1/3 cup whole coriander seeds
3 tblspn whole cumin seeds
½ tspn sea salt
¼ tspn whole black peppercorns
Preheat oven to 175°C.
Heat a frypan over medium high heat; add sesame seeds and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Note - sesame seeds will burn very quickly so don't leave them unattended. The aim is a golden colour all over but they will keep cooking after you remove from the heat, so be careful.
Remove to a cool bowl as soon as they are done.
Spread the chickpeas and nuts on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and roast for 3-4 minutes each side.
Remove from oven and mix with sesame seeds and remaining ingredients.
Process in a blender or food processor, or grind with a mortar and pestle until all ingredients are finely chopped.
Serve with good bread and extra virgin olive oil for dipping.