I must confess to having my go–to favourite dishes that I choose to make regularly instead of always trying something new, but every so often, my hubby & I wish that a new meat or fruit or vegetable would just get discovered already, because we have zero appetite for anything that we’ve eaten before (ok, except for seared scallops). That’s when I turn to the many trusty cookbooks that we’ve been given as gifts over the years, and decide that it’s time to try something different.
This recipe was a real stretch for me because there are two elements involved which is obviously time consuming, and one of those dishes you hope to God turns out tasty (and ends up looking like the perfectly styled photo in the cookbook) after all the effort. Salads are usually awesome because they are quick to throw together, but this one needed a bit more preparation time and patience, to reap the rewards. And boy was it rewarding.
I had never heard of Dukkha before coming across this recipe, but it sure did look interesting, and it sounded like it could be the perfect partner to prawns and watermelon. Dukkha is an Egyptian condiment consisting of varied ingredients depending on what household you ask, but generally it involves a combination of chunky or ground roasted hazelnuts, herbs, seeds and spices. Traditionally, bread is dipped in olive oil, then dukkha and served as a hors d’oeuvre or starter. But I think that watermelon chunks dunked in dukkha with a side of butter-fried prawns sounded much more delicious!
If you can get hold of ready-made, shop bought dukkha, then it’ll make this a super quick recipe for you, but if you have a mortar & pestle (or food processor), the time and energy to make your own (or you just can’t for the life of you find shop bought dukkha like me) then do so, because everybody knows that home-made is always better!
Dukkha (Makes a huge amount so you can halve or even quarter this recipe if you don’t intend to use it again anytime soon):
- 110g hazelnuts (preferably blanched but if they still have their shells on, then rub hazelnuts between a clean drying off cloth to remove the shells)
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- 2 TBSP coriander seeds
- 2 TBSP cumin seeds
- 2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1tsp freshly ground salt
Salad (serves 4):
- 1 small cold, ripe, sweet (and seedless if you can get your hands on one) and firm watermelon (skin removed, deseeded & cut into bite-sized chunks)
- 75g (or more if desired) Dukkha mix
- ¼ – ½ red onion (finely chopped)
- 1 clove garlic (crushed)
- 1 chilli (seeded and chopped)
- 2 TBSP rice wine vinegar (you can get this from any Chinese food store or some Food Lovers Markets – it lasts long and I use it often for Asian inspired dishes)
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- freshly ground salt & pepper (to taste)
- 250g cleaned, peeled & cooked prawns (I bought a frozen bag of already deveined and de-shelled prawns from Food Lovers Market)
- Mixed bag of lettuce or baby spinach (Rocket was a bit too overpowering for this dish I found)
- 1 small bunch of fresh coriander (chopped)
- Make your Dukkha (recipe from Taste.com.au):
- Preheat oven to 180°
- Spread your blanched/ de-shelled hazelnuts onto an oven tray and roast for between 5 and 10 min depending on your oven
- Crush your roasted hazelnuts in a mortar & pestle until some bits are finely ground and others a bit chunkier (or you can use a food processer to make lighter work of it) and place in a large bowl
- Heat a frying pan on medium heat and toast the sesame seeds, stirring constantly so they don’t burn, until they are golden brown. Add to the hazelnut bowl
- Place the coriander & cumin seeds in the frying pan over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly until aromatic and the seeds begin to pop. Transfer the seeds to a mortar & pestle and grind down until finely crushed
- Add the crushed spices, salt & pepper to the hazelnut bowl and mix well
- Set aside until the rest of your salad is complete
Salad (Sourced from Sunday Times Food Weekly Cookbook):
- If you still need to cook your prawns, I would suggest frying them on medium to high heat in a bit of butter, salt & pepper, until they lose their transparency. To double check: cut one of the largest prawns in half to ensure it’s cooked through i.e. white all the way through. Don’t overcook them otherwise they will become too soft and floury. They should still be firm.
- Dunk each chunk of watermelon into your dukkha, evenly coating each side and refrigerate
- Combine the onion, garlic, chilli, vinegar, oil, caster sugar and seasoning, and mix well
- Pour the mixture over the cooked prawns and allow to marinate for 15 min
- Arrange your lettuce leaves onto 4 serving plates
- Top with the prawns, dukkha-dunked watermelon & remaining dressing
- Garnish with coriander
- Serve & enjoy!
And that brings my collection of Seasonal Salads to a close until Summer returns again. Autumn has arrived and I can’t wait to tell you about some of the warmer, comforting dishes that I have in store. I’m off to Cape Town for my Easter holiday, so see you after that!
Happy Easter everyone! 🙂