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Wake up your senses

March 18, 2014 - 9:45am

Dukkah, an aromatic Egyptian spice mix, is downright addictive. It consists of freshly toasted nuts and seeds, plus seasonings and herbs that can be adjusted to personal taste. You can use it as a dip for bread, vegetables and fruit. It adds texture and flavor as a crust for lamb, chicken, fish and tofu. Mix it into rice for an exotic side dish. Dukkah is also fantastic sprinkled on roasted vegetables, in pasta and on peaches. It’s truly a wonderful addition to your seasoning arsenal. While prepackaged dukkah mixes are starting to appear on market shelves, freshly toasted ingredients make for a much better flavor, and luckily, it’s easy to make.

You can sample delicious dukkah, along with other fabulous flavors, at a presentation coming up in Waimea. “Wake Up Your Senses to a New Way of Eating,” a talk by Vivienne Aronowitz, is tentatively scheduled from 5 to 6 p.m. March 26 at Tutu’s House, 64-1032 Mamalahoa Highway. This gem of a community resource is dedicated to health and wellness for all, and is funded by donations. The presentation is complimentary, but donations will be gratefully accepted. To register, call 885-6777.

As a certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian for Kaiser Permanente on the Big Island, and in her private practice in Waimea, Aronowitz helps her clients avoid chronic disease by learning the principles of a healthy diet, exercise and stress management. She will introduce attendees to a world of fabulous flavors via some fun taste testing and easy-to-make recipes. Here she shares her version of dukkah, as well as an easy salsa amendment.


Aronowitz’s recipe calls for almonds, but you can try hazelnuts, pistachios, cashews, pine nuts or macadamia nuts. Besides sesame seeds, basic seasonings in dukkah are cumin and coriander, but experiment with dried thyme, mint, red pepper flakes, fennel seed, cinnamon or cloves, depending on its intended use. Makes 4 cups; store in an airtight container in a refrigerator.

1 cup sesame seeds

1 3/4 cups coriander seeds

2/3 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup cumin seeds

1 teaspoon sea salt or rock salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. Toast each seed variety separately in a large frying pan, stirring constantly, until aromatic. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Put coriander seeds in a food processor; pulse. Add remaining nuts and seeds, plus salt and pepper. Grind or pulse until they are finely crushed but not pulverized. Important: Be careful not to over-blend, or the mixture will form a paste. Taste to adjust seasonings.

Serve with crusty bread and a dish of good olive oil. Or try dukkah with cucumber slices or other vegetables.

Easy tomato and fruit salsa

When you add fruit to any tomato-based salsa, you create a lovely sweet-sour-spicy flavor combination that is much livelier than regular salsa. For best results, use a fresh, local tomato salsa, preferably with a low sodium content. Then add fruit of your choice: try papaya, pineapple, peach, mango or kiwi. Depending on how much fruit you add, the calorie count is likely to be less than 20 calories for 2 tablespoons salsa.

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