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I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t like crispy fried chicken. Seriously who can resist the uncomplicated joy of biting into juicy meat with crunchy coating. All the fried chicken selling local restaurants and international franchises are doing such amazing business in Pakistan that sometimes I fear if it has become our new national food. Why fear? Because of the low nutrition value, high sodium and fat content in those fried chicken meal deals.

But what if you could make a more delicious, equally crunchy and juicy version at home with buckets load of flavour and controlled quantity of salt and oil? That would be every weight watcher’s dream come true, right! So my friends, the good news is that there is a spice blend that will deliver these results and it’s very quick and easy to make with commonly available ingredients.

Dukkah/Duqqa is one such heaven sent blessing. It’s a Middle Eastern condiment, a coarse blend of toasted nuts, sesame seeds and spices. In different regional variations, hazelnuts, mint, zaatar, sumac or marjoram are also used. Combined with olive oil, it makes a delicious dipping sauce for breads and fresh vegetables . I even sprinkle it over pastas or rice for instant flavour. But Dukkah crusted chicken is my family’s most favourite way to enjoy it.

Dukkah means ‘to pound’ or ‘to grind’ . You can grind it fine or coarse but for this particular recipe, the coarse crumbly blend is an excellent and healthy substitute for bread crumbs and all other flour based coatings. It doesn’t need to be deep fried. Toasting the fillets on a lightly greased skillet is just perfect to keep the chicken moist inside with lots of crunch outside. And I can’t even begin to describe the aroma! This rugged and fragrant blend is definitely something to keep in the pantry always as a handy and versatile condiment.


For Dukkah Spice Blend:

1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup pistachio
1/4 cup almonds or peanuts
2 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt

For Chicken Fillet:

4 chicken breasts
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
2 egg whites
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

This Is What You Do:

Slice chicken breasts horizontally into two even halves to make thinner fillet for quick cooking.

Marinate with salt and lemon juice for at least 30 minutes.

Toast all the nuts and spices on a hot skillet or frying pan briefly or till you can smell the amazing aromas. Don’t let them get brown or burnt.

Remove from heat. When they are room temperature, grind them briefly in an electric grinder or crush to a coarse, crumb-like blend in mortar and pestle. Set aside.

Beat egg whites in a deep plate. Add Dukkah spice blend in another deep plate.

Remove chicken fillet from marinade. Dip them first into egg whites, then coat completely with Dukkah.

Heat oil in a nonstick frying pan on medium low heat. Add a few chicken pieces at a time to cook. Cook for 2 minutes on one side. Flip and cook another 2 minutes to crisp up the other side.

Cover and cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve warm with any salad or dip of your choice. Simple chickpea and yogurt salad and a squeeze of lemon tastes great with the crusted chicken.

Serves 2

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