This spice blend, known as dukka (DOO-kah) in Egypt, combines sesame and cumin seeds plus nuts, and often other spices. The blend gains a roasted note when the spices and nuts are toasted. Then a little salt on the chicken brings out the robust flavors of the blend.
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place first 3 ingredients in a small, dry skillet over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned, shaking pan frequently. Remove from heat, and cool slightly. Place nut mixture, thyme, and peppercorns in a spice or coffee grinder; pulse mixture 15 times to coarsely chop.
Place nut mixture in a shallow pan; place egg whites in another shallow pan. Dip chicken in egg white, and sprinkle with salt; dredge in almond mixture. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; sauté 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Place chicken on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until done.
This was a tasty way to treat chicken. I thought the spices were well-balanced, although in a bite here and there the flavor of thyme, cumin or black pepper dominated. I had to grind the spices and almond mixture in two batches due to the size of my spice grinder, and probably didn't get it as well mixed together as I could have. I used chicken thighs instead of breasts as I had them on hand, and only had 1.5 tbsp of fresh thyme, so I used 1/2 tsp of dried to make up the shortfall.
Delicious! The seasoning was perfect, in my opinion. I served this with oven-roasted carrots, which went really well with it.
I made a few changes:
I used 1 T fresh and 1 tsp dried thyme (didn't have enough fresh).
I cut the chicken into strips so there would be more surface area for the coating to stick to. I reduced the oven time to 10 minutes since the pieces were smaller.
I used 1 whole egg instead of 2 whites.
For some reason, I couldn't find cumin seeds, so I ended up toasting cumin powder with the almonds and sesame seeds. It still turned out great, and looked very appetizing! I served it with cherry cous cous (dried cherries, lemon zest, salt, pepper, cumin, and lemon juice), because I couldn't find currants either. I also served it with the wilted spinach. I liked all the flavors together and would recommend.
We made this last night after picking up the new issue of Cooking Light. The chicken was good but really dry tasting (especially on plain cous cous). I melted a little butter in a ramekin with lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper. The sauce helped A LOT (but obviously you can only have a little bit of it).
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